GALION — In an effort to provide residents with more opportunities to communicate with their family and friends, officials at a Galion area nursing care facility are turning to the latest technology.
Magnolia Terrace Assisted Living, located at 1110 N. Market St. in Galion, is now providing Facebook Portal devices for all of its residents, according to Christopher P. Schott, executive vice president of Alcore Senior Management, the company that manages the facility.
Schott said because of the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials were concerned about residents being isolated from their families and friends outside of the facility.
“We really were struggling with how to combat isolation,” said Schott. “What we noticed before we had COVID-19 in the building was that we were seeing a higher number of cases of pneumonia. We were seeing the higher number of cases because people were sitting in their recliners, laid back or lying in bed a lot. They weren’t up, out, moving around. So, we really started to brainstorm and figure how we could get people to engage more. We wanted to get people to engage more psychologically through conversation, video chat, whatever it would be, but we also wanted to figure out how we could make them active.”
Schott said the team determined that Facebook Portal provided the most flexible platform for its residents. Portal is a brand of smart displays and videophones Facebook developed in 2018. They provide video chat via Facebook Messenger and What’s App and include a camera that automatically zooms and tracks peoples’ movements.
“It’s all online so it’s pretty easy to access,” he said. “You can play a trivia game or do an exercise routine and whoever wants to watch and follow along can do it. It’s got (Amazon) Alexa (virtual assistant) built in so they can keep their minds sharp by asking it questions or doing trivia just with Alexa.”
Amazon Alexa can be utilized in a variety of ways that will benefit residents at Magnolia Terrace, Schott said.
“We’re going to do a pilot program with home automation in one of the apartments that’ll be tied to Alexa,” he said. “It’s got a lot of options for safety. Maybe if someone has to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, they can tell Alexa to turn the light on instead of trying to feel their way to the bathroom and risk falling. There’s so many benefits we can exploit, for lack of a better term, out of this device and technology. We’re learning a lot of this as we go along because we’re rolling it out in segments.”
Facebook Portal devices are being given to five residents at a time, he said. The residents receive training in the use of the devices from Magnolia Terrace staff members. Staff members then follow up with residents to see how they’re managing technology.
“They make sure the people are comfortable with using it,” Schott said. “They go back for five consecutive days to make sure they log in and call somebody in order to form a habit of using it. The goal is eliminate any fear of using the equipment and provide some interaction for them.”
According to the facility’s website, Magnolia Terrace opened in 2002 when “lifelong Galion area owners, Mike Flick, Gary Flick and Craig Miley, recognized the need for the aging members of our community.” The Flick and Miley families still own Magnolia Terrace.
For information about Magnolia Terrace Assisted Living, go to the website magnoliaterracegalion.com.