Moving a loved one to a senior-living community is often difficult. During a pandemic, when those communities must limit face-to-face interaction, it’s especially painful.

Some communities have installed no-contact window visits. Some have plexiglass booths with vinyl gloves that make it safe for hugging. And some are hosting a “Grandparents Day” drive-by parade.

Here at Spectrio, we’ve developed ways to help seniors once they’re back in their rooms. There are many features through our SHARE Community Builder platform that allow residents, families, and staff members to stay connected and engaged.

One feature is a mobile app where family members can view photos and videos that typically run as slideshows on digital screens in common areas. Part of the app also includes messaging capabilities between residents and their relatives, the staff or even other residents. 

Another new feature is an Amazon Alexa Skill that provides on-demand community information. Rather than using a remote control to scroll through information on a television, residents now can use an Amazon Echo device to ask Alexa for meal menus or a list of upcoming activities. Residents can also ask Alexa to send messages to staff members, check the weather, hear the news, and play music or games. 

We launched these before the pandemic, and at the time, they could help family members see what activities were happening and plan visits accordingly. The app also helped senior living facilities give prospects a better sense of the daily life there.

As we struggle with COVID, however, the app is even more useful, helping residents engage without leaving their rooms. Residents and family members can easily make slideshows of photos and videos, for example. Staff members can organize games, such as “Two Truths and a Lie,” or “Guess Who?” In that game, residents submit childhood photos to the staff member organizing the game, and everyone guesses who that could have been. 

More than ever, it’s essential to help seniors connect with both their families and their communities. We’re glad so many senior-living facilities have thought of ways to do this, and more than anything, we’re grateful for the essential health workers who help make it happen.