My hip 80-something mother-in-law uses Skype's free video calls to view the family as she talks with them over the computer. I'd like to see video calls in nursing homes, either via a video phone or over the Internet in the resident computer room—what, your facility doesn't have a computer room yet?
Families could literally see how their loved ones are doing, relieving anxiety and contributing valuable information to the treatment team. (Who knows better than her family that Mother isn't quite right today?)
It would allow long-distance family members to participate more actively in the lives of their loved ones.
In a nursing home with WiFi, a laptop could be put on a movable cart to bring to the rooms of residents who are unable to get to the computer room, reducing isolation.
It's also a great marketing tool for families and residents alike.
Dr. Barbera is an author and a licensed psychologist consulting in long-term care facilities in the New York City area. She frequently lectures on subjects related to psychology, aging, and nursing homes. Dr. Barbera is available for private consulting with organizations, institutions, and individuals around eldercare issues. Visit her personal blog at www.mybetternursinghome.blogspot.com.