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Nursing Home Residents Benefit from Videoconferencing


If you cannot visit a loved one who lives in a nursing home, you might want to try videoconferencing. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that nursing home residents who used videoconferencing like Skype or MSN to “visit” with their family members rated it a very positive experience.

With the ready availability of computers and videoconferencing capabilities on most PCs and laptops, it has become easy for many people to “visit” with each other from across town or from the other side of the world. Use of this technology in nursing homes may bring a new level of satisfaction and improve quality of life for its residents and their family members.

The study involved 34 residents who lived in 10 different nursing homes. During the three-month study period, the 18 women and 16 men participated in a number of videoconferencing sessions that lasted for an average of just less than 12 minutes each. Twelve percent of the residents did a videoconference daily, 47 percent did one weekly, 23 percent tried it monthly, and 18 percent did it occasionally.

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Professor Yun-Fang Tsai, chair of the School of Nursing at Chang Gung University in Taiwan and co-author of the study, explained that the residents were assisted by a trained research assistant to use Skype or MSN videoconferencing to speak to their spouse or family members. When the residents were interviewed at the end of the study, their comments were very positive regarding their experience.

Residents commented on their videoconferencing experiences, saying it was “fun and helpful,” that it made them “feel less anxiety,” that it was “better than the telephone for I can see the real thing,” and that because family cannot always come to visit, “this may sometimes replace their in-person visits.”

Although some of the residents said they were a bit anxious or self-conscious about using unfamiliar equipment, Professor Tsai said that the videoconferencing experience “proved a simple way to enrich the lives of people in nursing homes and enable them to be part of family life.” Making videoconferencing available to nursing home residents and people in other residential care facilities could improve the quality of life for all concerned.

Tsai H-H and Tsai Y-F. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2010; 19 (11-12): 1538-43