To break the social and emotional isolation of its residents, Hôpital Sainte-Anne set up the necessary infrastructure for residents to videoconference with their next of kin. Skype software was chosen for its ease of access, many functions and availability free of charge. This experiment has shown that videoconferencing has positive psychosocial repercussions: users have renewed family and social ties and now have the means to initiate and maintain regular contact whenever they wish. The amount of time they feel physically and emotionally isolated has been reduced. We have watched them gain a new, brighter outlook on life and openness to human relationships. Residents have shown definite therapeutic spinoff benefits, especially sensory and memory stimulation, as well as less agitation and negative behaviours in those with cognitive deficits. The assessment found that all users (100 percent) were satisfied with the new communication medium, which they would recommend to others. They consider this an effective communication option for breaking social isolation. All were satisfied with the quality of virtual contact as well. Despite occasional technical problems (related to Internet access and audiovisual quality of sessions), satisfaction with the technology reached 92 percent. This practice has proved to be a simple, inexpensive and easily transferrable way to greatly improve residents’ quality of life and health.
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