Virtual Nursing Home Visits Provide Company, Games -- and Therapy

Jan 22, 2021

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The pandemic has been hardest on those who live in nursing homes, only increasing their sense of isolation and loneliness.

But technology has come to the rescue, allowing nursing home residents to not only have virtual visits with loved ones but play games with them that are fun and therapeutic.

Eran Arden is the CEO of Restore Skills, which created this program. He said feedback has shown it restores relationships. “When a family member tells us, hey it’s the best conversation I had with my mother in five months,” he said, “because we only usually speak about the food, and nothing is new, playing a game together was the highlight of those five months.”

The games include slot machines, bingo, skiing and football, which Arden said help improve motor and cognitive skills. “Suddenly your conversation with your grandma is not about how is the soup today, what are you wearing, how was the therapy treatment,” said Arden, “but it’s about hey, let’s play again and let’s see how great your range of motion is, and hey, you’re winning.”

It’s a virtual visit with some big plusses, he said. “Instead of just having a call on Zoom or call on Face Time with a family member, with Restore family members can be engaged in the game, can be engaged in the therapy, in the skill-building session,” said Arden.

The program, which has been around for more than two years, is being used in nursing homes throughout the tri-state area. Arden said the number of facilities on the platform has tripled, to about 300 from about 100, since the pandemic began.

Residents can also play the games online with each other among the facilities that are connected.