NIHR | March 2021 | Virtual quizzes involving several care homes are feasible and might reduce loneliness and social isolation
Twenty-two care home residents, from three homes, volunteered to take part in virtual quizzes (8), which included conversation of around fifteen minutes duration before 20 straightforward quiz questions. Care staff helped to facilitate, Skype TV was used in most cases and residents took it in turns to use webcams.
Participants talked about ‘our home’s pride’ and ‘top star’ residents who could answer questions. Many residents participated in multiple sessions and some who initially observed took part in later sessions.
Four themes emerged from interviews with staff and residents:
- Residents with moderate-advanced dementia remembered faces and conversations but could not recall having seen the technology before. They expressed happiness when remembering conversations with people ‘outside’ of their care home, and answering questions in a ‘game’. They could recall details such as the gender or clothing of people who had spoken.
- Residents felt more connected with others. Within the same care home, residents learnt more about each other’s backgrounds and interests, and spoke fondly about their ‘teammates’. Across care homes, residents enjoyed comparing features of their environments.
- Residents re-gained a sense of self by sharing their stories and remembering their pasts with people of a similar age. One resident said the sessions were encouraging her to regain an interest in technology, but two expressed some insecurities, worrying that others may not like their image, and that ‘just anyone’ could see. However, the residents acknowledged that everyone on the calls had been friendly, and that they could move away from the screen if they wished.
- The virtual quizzes provided relief from loneliness or boredom. Most residents said the video calls helped them to ‘pass the time’ and gave them ‘something to do’. Residents said the quizzes encouraged them to get to know others within the same home more than passive activities, such as watching TV. Across care homes, residents were surprised that there were so many people with similar interests or professions, or who had grown up in the same area as they had.
Full details are available from the NIHR Alert
Primary paper by Zamir et al, 2021 is avaialble from Geriatrics