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In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, some facilities are temporarily restricting visitors in order to protect the health and safety of their residents. It is important to remain calm and remember that it is common for aged care facilities to restrict visitors when it comes to concerns about health. Aged care facilities are well versed in infection control and have procedures in place that aim to keep families safe – both inside and outside the facility. The most common example of these procedures is when an aged care resident gets gastro. In this case, the facility closes to visitors in order to allow the containment of the illness and to prevent it’s spread to other residents in the facility. At this time, many facilities are choosing to do the same in order to maximise the safety of all their residents.

Whether your loved one is just settling into aged care or whether they have been enjoying your regular visits for some time, it can be hard for families when separation is forced. Our Senior Placement Specialist Team Leader Natalia has helped hundreds of families settle into aged care and has four recommendations to ease the stress of not being able to visit your loved one.

1. Give your loved one a mobile phone or iPad

Nowadays, many seniors are experts at using mobile phones and iPads. If they are not already experts, they are quicker to pick up how to use technology than we often give them credit for. Getting them a device with the ability to connect to data or Wi-Fi is a great way to stay connected. Preloading the device with facetime or skype, phone numbers, email addresses and contacts can help them keep in contact with family and friends, should you not be able to visit. Don’t forget to download a few card games or sudoku puzzles – because oldies like games too. Also, if they cannot manage a mobile phone or device, talk to the facility about facility a call via the facilities landline.

2. Get the family to write letters

A good old-fashioned letter in the post to your loved one is a great idea that will likely bring back fond memories. If they are unable to manage to read the letter on their own, staff will be able assist. And don’t just let the letter writing stop at you – get the whole family involved. Even the great grandkids can send drawings and artwork they made at school or kindy to help brighten the day of their loved one.

3. Bring in items from home to make their room as familiar as possible

Throw rugs, trinkets and books from home all help to make an aged care room comfortable and welcoming. Make sure that anything you bring in can be wiped or laundered.

4. Photos, photos, photos

Make sure your loved one has plenty of photos around their room. Photos in frames are best as they can be wiped over easily when staff are cleaning the room. Use stickers or labels to add names to photos so that the staff can talk with the resident about their family and friends. Some photo albums from the past or a life story can be very comforting, especially if your loved one has dementia.

There are many ways to remain connected with your loved one, even if physical visits to your facility are not possible. Check with the facility before bringing things in as anything you bring may require special cleaning. Staying in close contact either by phone, facetime, email or through calls to the facility staff will help both yourself and your loved one feel connected during this time.