Connecting People in a Virtual World

Jun 01
Kathy Tasker, West Region Administrative Assistant
Dungarvin
Remote Connection
For much of the pandemic, day services in California had to transition their approach to a remote connection and come up with alternative ways to provide meaningful support to people who attend our day programs.

 
Remote workshops were set up, activity kits were packaged and delivered to doorsteps, connections via phone calls, text messages, and 1:1 virtual calls replaced our traditional in-person service model. For some, staying at home, receiving kits on the doorstep, and participating in virtual workshops was a fun, novel way to pass the time. However, after a couple of years, the novelty has worn off and a preference for a return to normalcy was desired. But for some, the remote connection that the day programs were able to provide during the pandemic may have proven to be life-saving and one of their only supports through challenging days.

Just because there is a pandemic, doesn’t mean that life stops. Many of the people we serve had significant life-changing events. In our Santa Rosa day program, one of our oldest programs in the state, the remote connection that the staff provided was life-altering. The first significant life-changing event happened to someone who lives in an apartment with very little outside support. They had a change in their medical condition, but this was not identified by the phone calls from the person’s service coordinator or residential support. The change was only identified by the day program staff, conducting regular video calls and virtual workshops with this person. They were visually able to identify a physical change that had occurred and were able to get support for this person. The person had a lengthy stay in the hospital and skilled nursing facility, but the day program staff continued to make regular contact, adjust activities for this person to participate in, visit the skilled nursing facility to engage the person, and provide regular 1:1 phone/video chats to keep connected. We are thrilled to be setting a return to in-person services date for this person. Without the awareness and connection provided by the staff, a much worse outcome would have likely occurred.

The second life-changing event happened to someone who had a family member pass away suddenly. This led to the family having to move to a new home. Others in the family worked and one of the primary supports for this person was the day program staff who were doing regular check-ins on the phone, set up and delivered a tablet for this person to join other classes, and met this person at their home to take walks around the neighborhood. This person did not have a counselor to work through their grief with or a lot of family support. The day program staff became this person’s counselor. Rather than becoming isolated and alone with their grief, this person had someone to turn to. This person was able to return to in-person services a couple of days per week recently and is now able to get the all-important in-person face-to-face connection.

The remote connection has its limitations and all the people we serve need in-person connection, but for those who had limited access to in-person connection during the pandemic, making a remote connection proved more valuable than any of us could have imagined.

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