By MaryLee Herrmann
Have families been yelling at you … for two years?
It’s not fun — for you or them.
But let’s go back to the beginning for a second.
Two years ago, when the pandemic hit, did you have a communication tool in place for families? Or were you left with a huge, frustrating gap?
In a recent Foresight’s Tech Tuesday interview, Leslie Symonds, of Milestone Retirement Communities, described the family situations this way:
The families were feeling so lost. It’s already a hard thing, moving your loved one into a community setting. But then all of a sudden, when the doors are closed and [they’re thinking,] “I can’t see my person,” [their] anxiety level is going up and up and up. And so, it was almost like our families forgot all the things that we were doing inside just because they couldn’t see it.
It’s been up to the communities to find an answer — a way to bring families back into the fold and to provide assurance that residents are getting the best of care.
For Leslie, who is the national director of lifestyle and memory care at Milestone, the answer was Quiltt (a Foresight partner). It’s a communication platform that includes a smartphone app for family members. With this tool, Milestone has been able to reassure families that residents continue to be engaged and cared for — and to immediately share the reasoning for lockdowns (such as government decisions, which are out of staff’s hands).
Through the app, staff can share things like activity schedules, menus, and even pictures of happy residents. Families feel like they can hear and see inside and have a connection to their loved ones, bringing them a sense of peace. Contentment.
Just like a warm quilt.
In the old days, a walkie-talkie and a paper calendar were the only tools team members had when out on the floor trying to keep track of everything going on that day. So a huge benefit to having Quiltt, Leslie said, is its availability on any mobile device, and even on televisions in individual rooms.
“Your residents and staff stay connected. It’s easy, not complicated to use, and it’s all real-time for everybody, stitching up any spaces in communication and planning.”
Some people might still want to cling to their bulky clipboards. Not everyone is going to jump on board with the new tech. However, the user-friendly interface (meaning it’s easy-peasy for everyone to use!) can break through that technology barrier with residents and staff alike.
“We’ve got to shift the way that we’re doing things, because we need to be communicating to everybody,” she said.
We’re still taking good care of everyone. We’re still making all these joyous things happen. “See the photos with them and their crazy hats? Look at the wonderful activities we have going on.” It brings to life what we’re doing so that the families can really experience that, even when they can’t be here because of pandemic restrictions or their own schedules, etc.
Speaking of Restrictions—AKA Your Hands Are Tied
Every state, every community, every county has different regulations. There are government mandates, and things are changing constantly. As Freddie Peyerle, Quiltt CEO and cofounder, pointed out, “Quiltt gives senior living communities the tools to stay on top of those changes with quick and immediate outreach, being able to let all family members promptly know, ‘Here’s the latest mandate that the county has issued, so we can’t do in-person visits at this time. But feel free to book a window visit.’”
Some communities utilize the Quiltt messaging system to let families know if they’ve had an outbreak of COVID, telling them right up front what happened, what to expect, what testing is going to happen, and what the state requires to be done. The system continues to report results back to everybody and give them a sense of how long until in-person visits can resume.
“With Quiltt in our communities, families can see we’re still doing our best to love their loved ones,” Leslie said. “We can’t do it like they do it, but we’re doing as much as we can.”