Nursing homes use technology to stay connected during pandemic

Volunteers in Langlade County help residents connect with devices
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Volunteers in Langlade County are using technology to help nursing home residents connect with their families during the pandemic.

The HeART Project and 4-H Tech Changemakers worked with older adults who can’t see family face-to-face right now.

“My wife got pancreatic cancer in 2019 and I saw the importance of holding her hand and her hearing my voice and me being able to talk to her,” said Paul Grinde, community volunteer. “When I saw people weren’t able to do that it broke my heart. There had to be a way to fix that.”

So Grinde began making phone calls around the community. There he found the 4-H Tech Changemakers.

The team used the Amazon Echo 5 device to allow nursing home members to connect with their families.

“To provide service so families can connect with their loved ones when they are inside the nursing home or the assisted living center,” said Holly Luerssen, 4-H educator for Langlade and Lincoln counties.

The device provides facial recognition so callers and receivers know who they are communicating with. The device is like a touch-less Facetime that users don’t have to fidget with. They tell Alexa who to call and she calls them.

“But when you can see a face, it just makes the heart grow fonder and you just become more of a warm fuzzy feeling when you can see their face and they can see yours,” said Luerssen.

So far only 6 devices have been issued but there is a commitment to get 100 devices running in Langlade County.

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