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21 Barclay Street, Heywood, VIC, 3304

New Tech for Heywood Rural Health aged care residents

Residents at Heywood Rural Health can now connect with their loved ones more effortlessly than ever before, with a new social media application available in the aged care facility.

A specially designed application for aged care facilities, CareApp, allows residents and their families to keep in touch on a secure, online space without the hassle of navigating multiple online platforms.

Heywood Rural Health activities coordinator Donna Carter said the app was easy for residents to grasp, with a system similar to Facebook.

“What we have found here is different relatives use different social Medias apps,” she said.

“We’ve had this problem of people using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or Facebook which gets hard to keep track of.

“There’s also that little worry about confidentiality and who gets to see it on those platforms and so with CareApp you can do all the things like Facebook only that it’s based in the organisation itself.

“It’s like our own little community.”

Ms Carter said the state’s rolling lockdowns had disrupted resident’s sense of normalcy, with the lack of outside stimulation taking its toll at the 45-bed facility.

“We used to have schoolchildren come in, entertainers, hairdressers, volunteers and even animals.” She said.

“There are so many support systems in place that cannot currently come in and the residents are really feeling it.

“Luckily in a small facility we’re like one big family, so we can support each other, but it has been very tough on the residents.”

Residents were not the only ones suffering with the restriction according to Ms Carter, with families also feeling out of loop.

“The app means we can not only keep residents connected with their family, but also keep the family connected as well,” she said.

“Especially during these lockdowns and even for family that maybe don’t live in the area and can’t come visit even when you’re allowed to.

“They’re often wondering if mum and dad are okay and through CareApp we can fling them a photograph and let them know.

“They can see the activities they’re up to and feel more comfortable that mum’s coping well.”

Although the app has only been available to resident and their families for a few weeks, Ms Carter said uptake had been positive.

“I’ve been getting email after email from family members looking to sign up,” she said.

“Normally when we send a text or email to the family, it might only go to the next of kin which means it’s up to them to pass the information on to everyone else.

“But with the app, any family member can sign up, so they can all see it at the same time and it cuts out the middle man.

“It also allows us to upload PDF’s to the app, so I’m able to put the planner and newsletter online.

“Family members can see what’ scheduled and when they should visit – some don’t like to visits during activity time, if they know their mum’s playing bingo they’ll organise a time to come in around that.”

The free application was launched in 2018, with more than 300,000 Australians now connected.