One of my biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that socialization plays a significant role in physical and mental health. I think a lot of the time, with elderly patients, it can be easy to forget just how much of an impact it has on them.
The patients now associate me with seeing their families. As I enter the room to start setting up the iPad for their calls, you can see right away how their demeanor changes.
It feels amazing, and sometimes staff from the unit will come to the patient’s room during the calls to see the change, because they know the patient is very different when they see their family. We had one patient who had weekly calls with family in Europe and as soon as she got on the call, she was laughing and smiling in ways you’d never see in other parts of the day.
We had another patient whose family member got in touch with me to say they had a wedding planned. They wanted to include the patient in the wedding virtually. They had a Zoom video call scheduled for the wedding and as I was in the patient’s room, making sure the audio and video were working, I could see the wedding and their whole setup.
When I took the iPad to the patient, their face changed immediately. Afterwards the family thanked us as well. It was really touching.
When I took the iPad to the patient, their face changed immediately. Afterwards the family thanked us as well. It was really touching. What I’ve seen in this role is a lot patients just want to be closer to their family but they’re not able to right now. It’s not a good feeling to see them like that, so it’s always nice when you can bring them closer.
I was a little worried when I first started this role in March because I knew I’d be in close contact with patients at a time where we were all worried about the virus, so it was a little scary. But, as soon as I saw the impact of my job and saw how patients reacted to seeing their families, I changed how I viewed the role. I don’t want to say my fear went away, but now I feel that the positive impact that I can make is greater than the fear factor of the virus.
Sam Minassie is an e-visiting coordinator at Providence Healthcare.
As told to Selma Al-Samarrai. Photos by Katie Cooper. This interview has been edited and condensed.