Sylvia Heys, who lives at the Granby Care Home in Harrogate, enjoyed a magic moment shortly after her new great grandson was born and she was able to see pictures of him through a new App that is purpose-designed for older people and loaded on a tablet computer.
Sylvia, who is nearly 80 years old, is one of a growing number of care home residents who are taking to the latest communication technology in their golden years to keep in touch with family and friends, store music, photos and videos, or simply enjoy games and puzzles.
Most of the older generation’s lives have been lived without today’s modern technology and they did just fine, but a growing number are learning to appreciate its benefits for communication as families live further afield and lives are generally busier.
The App works on computers, tablets and smart phones. Residents can use it on their own devices or use iPads that are provided in the home.
The home is run by national care provider brighterkind and every resident in its 70 homes is offered their own exclusive “Magic Moments” App. It has been designed to the group’s specifications, with care home residents in mind. It is easy and intuitive to use, with large buttons and large text for messages. It is private to the user and also incorporates security features that mean information and images of children cannot be shared with anyone other than the people connected to the relative.
Between visits in person, the App makes keeping in touch easy with audio, photographs, video or text. Residents can see their family at home or on their holidays. In turn, care team members can record residents taking part in different activities and attending events, which they can send to their family.
“Most residents didn’t know that an App is short for application, or that it’s a software programme, but they are not so interested in the technology so much as what it can do for them and when they understand that, they are enthusiastic about exploring all the functions” said Mel Hayward, Activities Coordinator at The Granby.
Jean Clayton, 94, who lives at the Lawns Care Home in Oadby, also regularly keeps in touch with her family via the App. She still likes traditional photo prints, so care staff print them and laminate them so that she can have them on view in her room all the time.
Elizabeth Heisig, 88, a resident at Hungerford Care Home in Berkshire has been using the App’s “Our Yesterdays” memory box feature to reminisce about childhood games and remind herself of the languages she spoke.
Royston Rawlings, 80, a fellow resident, enjoys the picture quizzes and puzzles that are available on the App. He also uses it to play music and follow his interest in war movies and stories.
At Lawton Manor Care Home in Stoke on Trent, Joan Key, who is 90 and her son Alan have been using to App’s “Our Yesterdays” section to look back to events in her childhood. She also enjoys watching videos and having a go at the quizzes.
Care teams in each home can help residents to upload and store digitalised photographs and video and sound recordings to create a personal keepsake that they can access as a treasure trove of memories.