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Ryman residents embrace virtual connections

Sunday, 24 May 2020  
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Picture: Ryman operations clinical and quality manager Karen Lake editor Rebecca McBeth


The Covid-19 pandemic has driven rapid digital transformation in the way residents receive care and keep in touch with friends and family at Ryman Retirement Villages.


The aged care provider already had its own electronic care record, myRyman, running on 3800 tablets deployed in residents’ rooms across its 36 residential villages.


The Ryman operations clinical and quality manager Karen Lake says these tablets were loaded with apps such as Zoom to enable residents to engage with their families and other residents remotely.


At Alert Level 4, every care centre resident was isolated in their room and social isolation was a big concern. Facebook accounts were set up for each village to enable residents in isolation to connect with their friends in the village.


Lake says residents are having virtual lunches together and there are hundreds of video calls going in and out of rooms every day. On ANZAC Day, a special tribute was loaded onto all residents’ tablets, as that was a particularly difficult day to be isolated.


“It’s been really positive,” she tells


Issues such as loss of condition through lack of exercise and falls risk were also top of mind, so Ryman Healthcare started running activity programmes through the devices as well.


Telehealth was significantly ramped up with GPs and allied health professionals seeing residents via video link.


All but nine of the organisation’s 34 villages across New Zealand and Australia are now using telehealth with two managing to conduct 100 percent of appointments with outside clinicians in this way.


“Before Covid-19 I would say 90-95 percent of visits would have been the GP coming to the village, now in levels four and three its either all done via telehealth or at least 40 percent,” says Lake.


“It’s going extremely well as we don’t want people coming into the village unless it’s absolutely necessary and a lot of GP consults don’t need to be in-person as a registered nurse can do the physical assessment.”


She says much of the work done over recent weeks had been mapped out for the next 12-15 months.


“We’ve had to put in solutions in timeframes we never imagined,” explains Lake.


“It has inspired us for the future as it’s opened up hearts and minds. People have really embraced the change and we haven’t had the resistance we might have expected from staff, doctors and residents.”


Lake will be speaking about Ryman’s digital response to Covid-19 during an eHealthNews Live webinar on 2 July.


Register for this free webinar here.


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


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