Maintaining Relationships through Technology

Finding safe ways to connect families and friends to their loved ones in nursing homes has been a global struggle amidst the disarray of COVID-19. In the fight against resident isolation, we have been exploring new ways of maintaining connections, from Zoom calls to window visits and more. It was from this search for improved connection and diminished isolation that St. John’s Vice President of Skilled Services, Nate Sweeney, had the idea to implement new technology called Soundmind (now replaced with Speak2Family). Soundmind is a device, similar to an Echo Show, that provides HIPAA compliant and voice activated assistance specially designed with nursing home residents at the forefront.

St. John’s Social Worker, Carlie Bartleson, has since spearheaded the rollout of the project by selecting six residents to be a part of the Soundmind pilot. Being the first in the area to implement this technology, we expected a few growing pains. We are pleasantly surprised to report that set up and resident training has been smooth sailing so far. Residents are able to call or video chat their loved ones at any time, listen to music, stay up to date on activities, get news briefs, and more all without lifting a finger. Families can even upload photos to share using the “memory lane” feature.

One resident, Milagros Maldonado-Diaz, was delighted to learn we were even able to program her Soundmind device to speak Spanish. Her daughter says, “It is amazing. Every time the connection goes through, Mom and I start screaming with JOY!  I realize how deprived we have been.”

Overall we have noticed residents are picking up quickly on how to use their new device; however, employees are always available to lend a helping hand where needed.

If the pilot continues to exceed expectations, we are hoping to rollout the technology to other residents towards the beginning of the new year. The cost of the device will be covered by St. John’s and families should expect a 1-2 week setup period after sign up. As we grow and adapt to this “new normal,” we hope initiatives such as the Soundmind pilot continue to offer an opportunity for residents to have more control over maintaining their connections and fighting any feelings of isolation.

If you have questions on the Soundmind pilot, please feel free to reach out to Carlie Bartleson at: .

St. John’s Foundation has chosen the Soundmind technology as the focus for fundraising during it’s December 1 ROC the Day campaign. Click here to contribute to this meaningful initiative!

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