Nature of contact adjusted for aged-care services

Meals on Wheels driver Wal O’Neill collects his deliveries from Age Concern Otago in Dunedin....
Meals on Wheels driver Wal O’Neill collects his deliveries from Age Concern Otago in Dunedin. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The usual social aspect accompanying services such as Meals on Wheels is absent, but older people may be better at using technology to connect during the latest lockdown, Age Concern says.

Age Concern Otago executive officer Debbie George said last year’s national lockdown prompted many people to take a course about using smartphones and she expected this would help them to use social media for staying in touch with friends and relatives.

Ms George expected people might also have become more used to internet banking since last year’s national lockdown.

However, service providers had to cut back on their usual social interaction.

Age Concern Otago’s Meals on Wheels operation had become a non-contact service and a visiting programme was being run by phone or video calls since the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown was brought in last week, she said.

The charity had about 1000 volunteers in Otago and Ms George said they had risen to the occasion to help where they could.

Presbyterian Support Otago chief executive Jo Rowe said the organisation’s eight care homes quickly switched into lockdown mode for everyone’s safety.

‘‘It’s not easy for people being kept apart from loved ones, though,’’ she said.

‘‘We do have video and phone call visits, as well as additional in-home activities for residents.’’

Ms Rowe said one big difference this time was a requirement for staff to wear masks.

‘‘This has been a bit disconcerting for some of our residents who are living with dementia.

‘‘We’re looking into whether it’s possible to source some see-through surgical-grade masks, so residents can still see the familiar and friendly faces of our staff.’’

Dunedin Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital chief executive Lynley Kloogh said protocols had some familiarity to them.

The home had been well briefed about infection control and staff were conscious of keeping risks to a minimum.

Dunedin musician Frank Humphries, who brings karaoke or sing-alongs into aged-care facilities, had to cancel this week’s appointments.

Mr Humphries said residents loved to chat and he looked forward to returning when he could.


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