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Communicating With Relatives

Communicating With Relatives

Communicating with relatives in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and congregated living settings is extremely difficult with COVID restrictions. It is exasperating for the family and near isolation for the elder. Here is one possible work-around using modern technology, without having to utilize an employee of the facility, which might not be easily done.

One product (and there are undoubtedly others) from View Clix is essentially a “portal” that allows family members to share photos, do video calls and send sticky notes. This particular product has a rotating slide shows of family pictures, but here is the critical part. Once it is set up, the elder does not have to know how to operate the device because it is always on. No need to have a 14 year old grandchild run it. The family activates a video call and as long as the elder can hear the voice speaking, can talk back and hear and see the family members calling. This is not perfect, because the elder may not hear the voice saying, “Hi mom,” but for those elders who can hear the voice, it is a potential solution.

A practical problem exists however, because many people share a room with
someone else, and facility workers can be seen and heard. This raises privacy issues and there is a proposed law in the Connecticut legislature to handle those issues. The resident of the facility and any roommate must sign a consent form and place a notice on the door that electronic monitoring may take place. The form can be signed by a power of attorney if the resident is unable. The family and roommate’s family must sign a waiver of liability for any breach of privacy. It must also list any restrictions on the use, such as prohibiting audio or video recording and broadcasting, turning off the device or blocking visual recording during a medical exam, or while the family member or roommate is dressing, bathing, or while meeting with an attorney, financial planner, or other visitors. The resident or a representative must agree that they are responsible for operating the device. It would also allow the family to make an agreement with the facility to let staff operate the device if it is needed for recording. 

A consent form is to be made available by the state ombudsman on its website.
There are other provisions if there is suspected abuse or neglect. If a new roommate moves in a consent must be obtained from that person before the device can resume operation. All of this is new territory for families and the facilities but is one step to increase communication with loved ones in facilities who cannot operate devices.

One of the saddest days of my life was watching my mother try to click on her TV with the mobile handset for her land line. These new devices will be some help in cutting back the terrible isolation that residents of almost all facilities are experiencing.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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