Virtual Care: Now more than ever

By: Amy Brasil, The Elliott Community Clinical Coordinator, and Kaitlyn Bader, Think Research Senior Implementation Specialist

We are all confronting the realities of lockdown once again.

Isolation from loved ones and a disconnection from the outside world. It is challenging and a sacrifice for all of us but we cannot take for granted that it is particularly difficult for our seniors in long-term care. 

Everyone is working together to keep our residents safe. To be creative and foster connection, one of the bright spots has been introducing video physician visits helping the Elliott Community navigate through these difficult times

Since April, for the most part, our doctors have not been coming into the home. It’s safer for our residents and them to reduce in-person visits. But what we also know is that for a long-term care resident, their physician is often a beloved member of their community.

Not long after we introduced VirtualCare at our home, one of our residents had a sudden change in condition. We were able to connect him with his doctor for a video visit. He loved seeing her face. It was April the last time she was allowed to come in and his face just lit up when he saw her. It really filled your heart watching his reaction.

There are many clinical advantages. It’s always a priority to avoid any unnecessary transfers to the hospital for our residents. A transfer to the emergency department can be stressful and trigger further negative outcomes. Especially now, we are concerned about the increased COVID infection risk. But when a patient has a sudden change in condition or a wound, it can be difficult to assess them with just a phone call.

Introducing a full telemedicine platform has opened our eyes to the possibility of other things that we can do to keep our residents here because we have the tools and the ability to connect visually with a doctor. 

Between the clinical opportunities and the simple social interaction, this new tool has been worth the learning curve and a lot of residents right now even though we are doing everything we can to help facilitate social interactions, they kind of get sick of seeing us after awhile. The doctor is an important part of their circle of care and frankly, their social circle too. They trust her. She’s part of their community and part of their lives.

Now, more than ever, technology is becoming a necessity in seniors care.

I go back to that wonderful interaction I witnessed for a resident who was going through a tough moment. He hadn’t seen his doctor in such a long time and prior to COVID she was part of his life. It was a really beautiful experience to see that smile on his face and his eyes light up when he got to see her. 

Times are tough right now, no question. But we continue to seek and find ways to support our community as we weather this pandemic together.