Technology helps keep seniors connected

The Woodland, Inc., an independent retirement and healthcare neighborhood, is bringing video conferencing service to residents through its “Connect The Woodland” program. The program was started to help residents stay in touch with family members and friends they can’t be with in person due to visitor limitations put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families want to see and hear their loved one,” said Greg Cole, president and CEO of The Woodland. “This gives families peace of mind and gives residents a way to see, hear and connect with the important people in their lives.”

When it’s time for the call, a member of the Woodland staff will bring a device to the resident in the privacy of his or her room or apartment. A staff member will set up the resident for the call and can be available for technical assistance throughout. When the call ends, a staff member will pick up the device and ensure that it is thoroughly sanitized.

Families wishing to connect with residents of The Woodland can email woodlandIT@thewoodlandinc.com to schedule an appointment. Appointments will be scheduled between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. It is recommended that “virtual visitors” send three possible times when they’d be available for the call.

When preparing for a first call, the “virtual visitor” must let The Woodland know whether they are using an Android or Apple device. They must then download the corresponding app — Google Duo for Android and Apple Talk for Apple devices. If “visitors” do not have a device that supports those programs, they can come in person to The Woodland’s former Family Practice building at 202 Agee Street at their appointed time. The Woodland’s IT staff will then assist with connecting the video chat.

“We’ve been helping residents with Facetime on personal phones,” said Cole. “We wanted to formalize a program that makes it easy for residents to stay in touch through technology many visitors already have in hand.”

The Woodland has eight devices, including iPads, Android tablets, iPhones and Android phones to run calls simultaneously. The organization can support calls up to two hours in length.

The Woodland, which marked its 50th anniversary earlier this week, has suspended all outside events at its community center, limited deliveries to designated loading areas, and required all residents and employees to report travel plans in agreement with CDC guidelines.

Those seeking updates on visitation regulations at The Woodland may email CEO@thewoodlandinc.com. The organization will also share updates on its website at www.thewoodlandinc.com/covid19 and on its Facebook page @TheWoodlandIncVA.

Lois Pugh chats with her daughter as part of “Connect The Woodland” which gives residents of the retirement neighborhood the opportunity to connect with loved ones through video technology while limited visitation is enforced.

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