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Videoconferencing with family members
enriches the lives of nursing home residents
Initiative could easily be replicated in
other residential care settings
June 22, 2010--Nursing home residents who used
videoconferencing to keep in touch with
family members felt it enriched their lives,
according to a study in the June issue of
of Clinical Nursing.
Thirty-four residents from ten nursing homes
took part in the study. The 18 women and 16
men had an average age of 75.
All of them said the experience enriched
their lives, just under two-thirds said it
was the second-best option to family
visiting and a third said it gave them a
true picture of family life.
"A trained research assistant helped the
residents speak to their spouse, child or
grandchild using SKYPE or MSN" explains
co-author Professor Yun-Fang Tsai, Chair of
the School of Nursing at Chang Gung
University in Taiwan. "At the end of the
three-month study period, all the
participants took part in in-depth
The average videoconferencing session lasted
just under 12 minutes. Twelve per cent took
place daily, 47 per cent weekly, 23 per cent
monthly and 18 per cent occasionally.
The residents were very positive about the
experience. They said it gave them a chance
to be part of family life, see relatives who
had moved abroad and allay anxieties if
relatives were unable to visit. Comments
"It is a fun and helpful activity. Although
it took me a little time to interact with my
family I feel fabulous every time after
talking with my son. Sometimes he plays a
song I like on the violin, which he would
never bring here. He also shared some photos
with me, the pets in the house and so on."
"My daughter-in-law owns a pet store. She
always shows me what's new in her store,
such as a new pet. It's really interesting."
"If my family could come to visit me in
person, that would be the best way since I
can see them more clearly…But they are very
busy and have no time to visit every day.
This may sometimes replace their in-person
"My son lives in America and has his own
business. He only has time to visit me once
or twice a year. Via videoconference, I have
the chance to see my son, grandson and so
"I feel less anxiety. If my son does not
visit some week I would not be anxious,
worrying about the status of his family and
clamouring to go home. This is better than
the telephone for I can see the real thing.
I wouldn't think my son is lying to me that
everyone in the family is OK. I can see
their rosy faces, which are very believable
"Since my son emigrated to America my
grandson seldom comes back to Taiwan due to
his school life. Via the videoconference
programme I can see how tall he has become."
Some of the residents felt slightly anxious
or self-conscious about using the equipment
as they were unfamiliar with computers and
found it strange to see their family on a
screen rather than in person. Comments
"When I first used the setup, it felt very
strange to talk with a computer even though
my son was on the other side."
"Sometimes I have no idea what to say, but
it is fine since I can see my children. That
part is good."
"I hope I can deal with my teeth. It would
help me to say more. Otherwise my dental
problems would interfere with my family
understanding what I am saying."
"We were very pleased with the positive
reactions this initiative received" says
Professor Tsai. "In fact, the researchers
often arrived to find the residents had been
waiting for them for half an hour, keen to
ensure they didn't miss their slot!
"It proved a simple way to enrich the lives
of people in nursing homes and enable them
to be part of family life. We would also be
keen to see this expanded so that families
could also become part of their relative's
nursing home life.
"Residents needed some time to get used to
the programme, and had to have help to use
the equipment, but the benefits were
considerable and could easily be replicated
in a wide range of residential care