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FREDERICTON (GNB) – Adult residential facilities across the province have received iPad tablet computers to help residents stay connected with loved ones.

“We are so happy to be able to provide those in long-term care with more opportunities to connect with the ones they love,” said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard. “Being able to connect to friends and family, when visiting in person is not an option, is a key part of preventing isolation and loneliness. This, combined with regular access to a doctor, can promote both physical and mental health.”

With the tablets, physicians will also be able to hold virtual appointments with residents as needed.

In partnership with BrunNet, 761 iPads have been distributed to 461 adult residential facilities, which serve about 7,000 residents across the province. The tablets were provided to the facilities in June at a cost of $602,516. This initiative includes memory care homes, special care homes, generalist care homes and community residences. Each facility has been provided one tablet for every 10 residents.

“I am pleased we have been able to work with BrunNet for a second time to bring more tablets to residents in long-term care,” said Shephard. “This partnership was successful in bringing tablets to nursing homes in 2020 as the pandemic grew. Although we are no longer in a pandemic lockdown, the goal to connect everyone is still important.

The iPads will have applications such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom for Healthcare to carry out the video calls. Technical support will be provided by BrunNet.

In May 2020, 489 tablets were provided to nursing homes across the province to help doctors do their rounds and to address social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to these efforts to help long-term care residents stay connected, the Department of Social Development has been working on a new long-term care plan. This plan will outline ways to provide the support and services needed to keep seniors living as independently as possible while leveraging community and home-care services to keep them in their homes and communities longer.