|When the pandemic descended across the United States in 2020, many of our seniors worried about access to their doctors and routine healthcare. Seemingly overnight, online portals for telehealth visits became mainstream and proved to be a convenience for many.
Unfortunately, for older adults who have little experience or knowledge of being online, accessing their doctors via a portal proved challenging. For example, computer settings on both ends (the user’s and the doctor’s office) had to be compatible. At our congregate living apartment buildings, where computers are kept in common areas, lack of privacy was a major concern. And, most challenging was the resistance that most residents had with them not willing to learn how to get online and discuss their healthcare needs.
The recent National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by the University of Michigan supports the experience we had at Fellowship Square and the thinking many older adults have about portals.
While the industry will continue to evolve to create more efficient systems, Fellowship Square has implemented numerous training opportunities for residents to learn how to use computers and smart devices, to break down barriers and help seniors gain confidence in their online experience. We have launched free Wi-Fi throughout our buildings for all residents to access in common areas as well as in their own apartments. We have made available Google Nest Hubs to each resident and developed a Tablet Share program that allows any resident who wants to use a tablet the ability to do so for a week at a time.
Technology is now an important priority in senior living. The work that we do at Fellowship Square – in the area of technology and all our Resident Life programs – could not be accomplished without the dedicated support of so many volunteers, community partners and funders.