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Lakeridge connecting families through iPads

(Lakeridge Health Foundation photo)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Lakeridge Health is keeping patients in contact with their families by using iPads while hospitals are locked down.

Kim Lawn, director of patient experience at Lakeridge and Daina Porter, a representative of the Lakeridge Health Foundation, Bowmanville Hospital Foundation, Port Perry Hospital Foundation, and Ajax Pickering Hospital Foundation, explained the program sees patients being able to continue interacting with their families despite the COVID-19 pandemic restricting visitors to the hospitals, such as Lakeridge Health Oshawa.

“We launched April 8, and have had great success, particularly over the holiday weekend,” says Lawn. “Easter Monday has been our busiest day so far. We’ve had 50-plus successful virtual connections so far.”

Currently there are 41 iPads across all five of Lakeridge’s hospitals.

Patients get to speak with their families via the FaceTime app on the iPads, many of which were donated to Lakeridge Health, while others were purchased through fiscal donations.

“This is a collaborative effort between our IT team, and patient experience, and of course with the support of the four foundations,” says Lawn.

Lawn explains the project came about after Lakeridge Health restricted access to hospitals around the region.

“Shortly after, the team began searching for ways for patients to stay connected to their loved ones,” she continues. “Of course, there’s telephone calls, but we know that having a face-to-face interaction, ideally in person, is the best thing but we can’t do that right now for safety reasons. Being able to see a loved one’s face, particularly in our current environment where all staff are masked… to be able to visualise and see their loved ones and see their face and see their smile is really part of the human connection.”

Lawn explains this can benefit the patients because connecting with loved ones during a health crisis or “health care journey” is an important part of the healing process.

“We’ve heard the successes, we’ve had family members calling in internationally, we’ve had elderly patients connecting with family and loved ones in the community,” says Lawn. “There’s been tears of joy and smiles.”

She says it also helps the staff, as they are also only seeing half of each other’s faces, and also benefit by seeing the interactions between the patients and their families.

According to Porter, the iPads came from two different sources.

“First, some of the iPads have been donated by community members to some of the foundations, and also, we’ve raised funds to cover the costs of the iPads,” explains Porter.
“A few weeks ago the four foundations supporting Lakeridge Health came together to launch this campaign called,” she explains. “It’s very exciting for us because it means we’re running one big campaign in support of the urgent needs of all of our hospital sites.”

The goal for the fundraiser is $500,000, and the total currently sits at $130,000.

Patients and their families can use the service between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday to Friday.

“It’s really important for folks who want to use the service to go to our website, and to access the getting started guide,” says Lawn, adding it’s important to access it first to prep for their call.

Once prepped, call 905-433-4429, and callers will be connected with an operator who is a member of the Lakeridge Health team to help them get set up for their call.

“The reason we went with that model is we wanted to ensure that this has the lowest possible impact to our frontline team members, so that they remain freed up to provide care,” says Lawn.