COVID-19 has changed life as usual in Ireland. Children attend schools online, sports have been cancelled, many shops are closed, and restaurants are often limiting operations, all in an attempt to flatten the curve of this world pandemic.
And social distancing – while important and necessary – presents its own challenges, especially if family members are elderly and cocooning or find themselves in hospital. Although restrictions can make it difficult to see loved ones in person, there are ways to still keep in touch.
Communicating With Isolated Loved Ones During COVID-19
This virus has caused people to think differently about social interaction and communication and technology is playing a key role in how we stay in touch with family and friends who may be impacted by social distancing guidelines. For family and friends in nursing homes and hospitals, knowing that they are supported is more important than ever.
Here are a few suggestions on how to stay in touch with isolated loved ones:
- If possible, give them a smartphone or tablet so they can receive text messages, calls and maybe event participate in video chats – and don’t forget to include a charger so technology will always be at the ready!
- Establish a routine so your loved one can look forward to digital check ins throughout the day.
- Encourage your loved ones to stay interested in local, regional, and global news and events.
Resources to Stay Connected*
Knowing that interests vary greatly from person to person, here are a few suggestions that might be a good start. It’s likely that once your loved one understands the wealth of information that is available at the click of a mouse, they will find websites and apps that suit their personal interests. Here are some suggestions:
- Video Chat: Apps like WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangout, and Apple Facetime, can all be used to make video calls. Liven up the day by talking one-on-one or holding a family group chat.
- Movies, TV, and videos: Access videos on YouTube or movies on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, or many other online sources. Many of them require a monthly charge but also may have free trials available.
- Museums: Take a virtual tour of the National Museum of Ireland or the National Gallery of Ireland, discover the collection at Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum with director, Eamonn McEneaney, every morning on WLR-FM, read about the mediator team’s favorite exhibits at Science Gallery Dublin, or follow Imaginosity on social media for DIY children’s activities.
- Music and podcasts: Create your own stations or playlists for music or listen to podcasts on Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, Tidal, and TuneIn.
- Online learning: Learn something new by taking online courses from resources like Open Culture, Coursera, or EdX. Skillshare offers creative opportunities or if you’d rather brush up on a foreign language or learn a new one Duolingo can help with that.
- Read: Get lost in a great story or create a book club with friends to discuss together. While you can buy ebooks, Libraries Ireland has an app called BorrowBox, which allows users to access ebooks and audiobooks from their phone, as well as other resources.
- Theaters: Whether it’s music, theater, or another art that interests you, many cultural organizations have online resources. The Abbey Threatre and the Royal Court Theatre partnered to make a film adaptation of Cyprus Avenue available free of charge. RTÉ is screening a series of classic BBC productions of plays by William Shakespeare. If you’re looking for cultural opportunities outside of Ireland, The Metropolitan Opera has nightly encore shows. LA Theatre Works has recordings of more than 500 plays. The Kennedy Center Digital Stage features recorded performances from a wide variety of artists
- Wellness and mental health: Be aware of your mental state and reach out for support to organizations such as HSE and Mental Health Ireland.
- Zoos: The Dublin Zoo has live webcams of the animals, feeding times, and nature activities. Plus, join the Zoo on YouTube every Monday for a virtual tour. You can also go behind the scenes on the social media pages of Fota Wildlife Park and Galway Atlantaquaria.
*Online resources are provided for informational purposes only. UPMC has no affiliation with and does not endorse any of the companies or organizations listed. Monthly fees may be required.