The Covid 19 Pandemic challenged society and hit the healthcare community hard. It affected all segments of the population, but it was detrimental to members in vulnerable situations. The expansion of telehealth has provided access to healthcare, reducing disease exposure to staff, patients, and providers.
Our Clinical Director at MediTelecare™, Dr. Eden Brown, spoke with Jared S. Taylor, the Podcast host of Slice of HealthCare, about the challenges that Covid has brought to skilled and long-term care communities over the past two years. In addition, they discussed the challenges residents faced mentally during the shutdown from Covid.
Read on for some key takeaways, and click HERE to listen to the full episode.
Physical Challenges for Older Patients
Skilled and long-term care communities typically have older residents. They tend to be limited in mobility and what they can do physically. During the pandemic, many residents were confined to their rooms in isolation like they had never seen before. Once that happened, simple activities like walking the halls or going to the PT area abruptly stopped. Those residents, in turn, experienced a physical decline, which was painful for loved ones to watch and debilitating for the resident.
Anxiety, Depression, and Confusion
As one of the most vulnerable populations to contract the virus, fear escalated due to all the unknowns. Depression and anxiety significantly increased in residents, especially during the early days of Covid before there was a vaccine. The isolation caused depression and anxiety to peak because they wondered if they would get the virus whenever someone came into their room.
Disrupting their routine and disconnection from their friends and family for residents with cognitive challenges increases confusion and disorientation. For example, a man with dementia is used to his routine visit with his wife daily for lunch. However, he can no longer see her because of the shutdown. In his mind, he wondered where she was and if he would ever see her again. The confusion was heartbreaking.
The Impact of Technology on Older Residents
Technology is significant in telehealth. Without it, there’s no virtual visit. So, education, guidance, and support are essential for these residents.
MediTelecare™ makes sure residents never have to navigate technology alone. A Clinical Support Specialist is available to assist anyone having issues or questions.
Residents with some technology, like a smartphone or tablet, are more comfortable and engaged in using telehealth. Smartphones are good for making phone calls. But they are small, so it’s not always ideal for telehealth visits, especially with a visually impaired resident.
The lack of quality speakers or headphones is another issue. Many residents do not realize they need to hear what is said during telehealth visits. Whatever device a resident uses, having good speakers or headphones is essential. In addition, a device with closed captioning can help a person who is hearing impaired.
A significant problem falls on our Less affluent residents. They are often the ones with little to no access to technology. They need to be supplied with the resources and have little knowledge of how to use them.
The Future of Telehealth
Telehealth continues to evolve and improve. The challenge right now is the rural populations nationwide are incredibly underserved. As high-speed internet rolls out into more parts of the country, telehealth will have greater access, especially in these areas.
To see how MediTelecare’s™ program can provide psychiatric and psychological telehealth needs to older adults, Reach Out Today!