“During Covid” is a phrase that nearly everyone understands as being the timeframe of when our world first managed life through the Covid-19 pandemic. The practice of “quarantine” began roughly around the 14th century and derives from the Italian words quaranta giorni, which means 40 days – the quarantine time for ships arriving in Venice to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics. Despite how long this practice has been around (congress passed federal quarantine legislation in 1878 in the United States), long-term care was not prepared to handle this crisis that would affect our country’s most vulnerable.
EyeClick is a world leader in interactive technology and created BEAM, an award-winning gaming solution that turns any physical space into an immersive, active and highly addictive gaming experience for children ages two and up.
When it came to seniors and their mental health, EyeClick saw a need to help address some of the mental health challenges that came with the Covid-19 pandemic and decided to launch a study in November 2020 across dozens of care facilities. They surveyed both caregivers and senior management to gather information on some of the challenges in senior care. These included increases in loneliness and depression, along with cognitive decline.
After their initial research, EyeClick created and deployed a product called Obie for Seniors to senior care facilities across the northeast United States. Of those surveyed, 94% of respondents saw general improvements in residents, and 88% found improvements in residents’ social behaviors. Since loneliness was one of the primary afflictions of the pandemic, they felt that the Obie product offered a lot of promise to senior care communities.
Did you know: In regards to loneliness, Alison Bryant, PH.D, Senior Vice-President of Research for AARP, stated that isolation “has a profound negative effect on health and well-being – as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
During a shopping trip at Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Director of Rehabilitation at Voyage Long Term Care, Lindsey Smith, COTA/L, saw children interacting with a gaming device, running around and stepping on virtual fish. This sparked an idea of yet another way she could bring technology to seniors and teach them to not run away from it.
After bringing her idea to President and Chief Executive Officer of Voyage Long Term Care, Brad Underwood, he found the choice to be easy, as he saw it as “an additional benefit for resident therapy and overall quality of life.” Underwood has always been an operator that thinks outside of the box when it comes to doing what’s best for the residents of his nursing homes. After further research, the team decided to purchase an Obie for Seniors device, with Underwood stating that he “didn’t think twice” about paying the one-time fee to purchase the product.
Smith, more than most, understands the challenges of using technology in a nursing home environment. With the recent addition of the Meta Quest VR headset (you can read more about this in our blog titled “The Future of Therapy is Here, and It’s at Voyage Long Term Care”), Smith has already witnessed more engagement and interaction with technology amongst residents at both Oak Hills Care Center and Edmond Health Care Center. She believes that, like with Virtual Reality, the Obie could be something that the residents would not run from and would want to join in and use more often.
Did you know: According to the World Economic Forum, technology adoption by adults over the age of 60 is slow and often frustrating due to lack of familiarity with terminology, as well as physical challenges that can make usage difficult.
The Obie is currently being utilized at Oak Hills Care Center, with plans to purchase and install an additional system at Edmond Health Care Center in the near future. “The greatest outcome that I have seen in our residents,” shares Smith, “is a lot more initiative amongst our residents. They are coming out of their rooms and taking the initiative to use the Obie.” When asked about the favorite game amongst seniors, it wasn’t a surprise to hear that they most often opt to play BINGO with a group of friends. However, a close second to BINGO is a game called Rush Hour, a sliding block puzzle game that has the player work on tasks based on sequencing and problem solving.
Another benefit, Smith explains, is that because you can put the projection on the wall, floor or a table – all disciplines are able to use it when interacting with residents. Smith’s team uses the Obie for a wide variety of therapy activities. Recently, a gentleman used the Obie for physical therapy on his foot, where he was able to work on his balance and cognition. It has also been used in nursing as a tool for re-directing or spending time with a resident.
Overall, the effects that the Obie product have been positive. Communication, social skills, mental dexterity, and overall mental health have all improved with the use of this system.
For more information on the Obie, visit www.obieforseniors.com