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Moose Jaw Extendicare arranging video calls with families for residents

To keep residents from feeling isolated from their loved ones, staff at Moose Jaw Extendicare are setting up video calls to keep them connected while visitation is not allowed
facetime grandma
(photo by Larissa Kurz)

Although residents in personal care homes are currently unable to see any visitors due to COVID-19 measures from the health authority, the staff at Moose Jaw Extendicare are doing their best to help the situation by organizing video calls with loved ones for residents. 

Sienna Stewart, recreation supervisor at the home, saw on social media that other care homes in Eastern Canada were helping their residents set up video calls with family and decided to bring it to Moose Jaw.

“We figured it was kind of a good thing to start here,” said Stewart. 

She sent out an email directly to family contacts with the offer, and there’s already been lots of interest from loved ones requesting time slots. 

“For at least the month of April, it's something we're going to heavily rely on just because we do have a lot of really involved family members,” said Stewart. “They're really having a hard time with not being able to come in and see their loved ones.”

Currently, Stewart and the staff are organizing FaceTime and Skype calls every morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and afternoon from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday to Friday, and select evenings for those who need a special time. 

“So far it's been pretty smooth. We've only just done a couple, so we're just waiting for more confirmations from family and then for us to make time for everyone,” said Stewart. 

Staff at the building are doing all of the technological heavy-lifting to connect the video calls, making it an easy and hassle-free way for residents and loved ones to see each other.

“We've managed to work it out with a couple of our iPads, and some girls working here on the floor are bringing additional iPads from home,” said Stewart. 

The calls are currently being limited to 10 minutes, to ensure that everyone is able to take advantage of the opportunity with the limited smart devices available. 

The loss of visitors has been difficult for the residents, said Stewart, especially since many are already dealing with the stress of moving into a care home and making big life changes. 

“On top of that change moving in here, now all of a sudden the world hits them with this and the few people that they rely on can't come in and visit, and they can't see them,” said Stewart. 

Since the protective measures have started, there have already been big birthdays missed and grandchildren born who can’t visit, and Stewart said that has certainly dampened spirits for many. 

“You don't understand until you kind of work in long-term care that it's already kind of an isolating place to live, and now with this on top of it even worse,” said Stewart.

The limits on visitation have not only affected family members but also the volunteers who come in for entertainment and activities with the residents. 

To fill the gaps, staff have been continuing to organize smaller social programming events for residents, such as baking or music activities, but they have to work with smaller group sizes. 

“Everything's just kind of been scaled down, as much as we can,” said Stewart. 

Stewart hopes that by offering the opportunity to at least see loved ones through a video call, residents will feel less alone during the pandemic measures. 

Loved ones interested in setting up a video call with a resident at Extendicare are encouraged to contact the facility either by email at or by calling 1 (306) 693-5191, with their contact information and a preferred time for their call. 

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