Mobile Phones – Care Partner’s Friend Or Foe?
Sally Hopkins, EARC and Business Development Manager – Eden in Oz & NZ
It’s Monday and I thought I’d share a story on a lesson to be learned about the potential impact of mobile phones for staff and resident relationship development. We know that many people are ‘wedded’ to their mobile phones & internet virtual friends – being in constant contact with cyberspace for a nano-second or more seems to be imperative for them to survive!
At a recent Eden Associate training we asked all participants to turn their phones to silent…(there would be time through the day to check in). This unfortunately didn’t happen for one group of new employees in particular. They were constantly on their phones – FB, games, texting etc. Very frustrating and illuminating at the same time.
Their behaviour raises the question…”is this what we want to see from care partners when they’re providing care to elders?” Do we want staff to be constantly distracted and not focusing upon the here and now? I know if it was me in that bed or chair and wanting some real connection, that my care partner being wedded to their mobile phone & other ‘life’ isn’t going to do it for me. I would like them to be in the moment with me or other elders with whom we are hopefully developing meaningful relationships.
Principle 4 is about giving & receiving care to eliminate helplessness. Locked onto a phone screen whilst being with an elder, is certainly creating an intense level of helplessness for the care recipient. (Where are they? What about me?) Principle 6 is about what is meaningful for Elders. Certainly we know of great knowledge sharing between care partners around the whole I.T. challenge – phones, tablets, laptops etc & that Skype is a wonderful connector.
Talented people can certainly share their knowledge and skill with elders with this, at times, challenging platform of communication. But is it meaningful long term?
In hindsight, the whole issue of connection needs to be explored more fully and that our selection of care partners who truly care about the relationships they have with Elders rises above the ‘immediate response’ of the here and now of the internet and mobile phone. These instruments are not my care partner of choice.
In seeing these people in our training and their lack of response to the request leads me to believe that their future in providing meaningful care to others will always be compromised by other forces which Elders have no control over. This is not person directed care from an elder’s perspective, but person directed care from a care givers perspective…”I will provide care to you on my terms”.
The Eden Alternative focuses upon resident directed or person directed care. We are here for Elders and focus on a partnership in care. There is no “I” in T.E.A.M. The team is everyone, including Elders. We are aiming to change the culture of care and mobile phones can be a part of our physical change but I do not believe at the expense of “why are we here?”
As Ghandi says, “be the change you want to see in others”. That means turning off the mobile phone until my work is finished. The sun will still rise tomorrow and your cyber friends won’t “unlike” you just because you’re not ‘on’ for 24/7. We need to be ‘on’ for the Elders in our care environment.