Staying Connected: Kansas Christian Home Uses Technology to Help Older Adults Socialize During Pandemic

Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work in 2021.   

KCH staff using the iN2L to host a game of bingo with residents.

In early February, thanks largely to an NBA Mission & Ministry Grant, Kansas Christian Home (KCH) received delivery of an iN2L  (It’s Never Too Late) engagement technology system.  For several years, our CEO has anticipated being able to purchase this system to assist the residents of our healthcare center.  Her previous employer used the system, and she appreciated the way it impacted the daily lives of their healthcare residents.

Founded in 1999, the iN2L was created to help senior communities stay physically and mentally engaged through computer games, online content, and other activities that encourage cognitive engagement.

After a month-long “shake down” by our Life Enrichment team, during which they received training on how to use, service, and update the system and practice using it, our two team members, Ashley and Ashton, were ready to put the system into service.

At the time we began using the iN2L, KCH was still under lockdown due to the high number of COVID 19 cases in our county.  We were fortunate that the number of residents who had the virus was very small, only four. However, that did not change the fact that the healthcare center was locked down, which meant residents could not leave their rooms, except for doctor appointments, emergency hospital transport, or other serious reasons. They were able to come to their door, which meant that the Life Enrichment team had to be very creative in how they conducted their activities.

Mari E. and Becky N. are two residents who were able to benefit from the use of the iN2L. Neither are very ambulatory but could sit in a chair or wheelchair just inside the entrance to their rooms.  Both found the device very exciting. This was truly high technology that had the sole function of improving their socialization, communication, and recreation.

Mari said that one of its best features was its very clear sound quality. While playing Bingo, she said residents could clearly hear the letters and numbers as they were called out. Previously, staff would shout out the letters and numbers, but the iN2L not only has a great sound system but also a large screen so for easy viewing.

KCH Residents use the iN2L device to play brain games that encourage cognitive engagement.

It has been much easier for the Life Enrichment staff to conduct activities using the iN2L. The staff has become proficient with its use. Set up was relatively easy, compared to more traditional activities that included a box or bag of items. The device has been a complement to the physical activities staff has leaned on to keep our seniors engaged. Residents have become more interested in participating because they are intrigued by the new equipment and how it works.

Becky N.’s experience is similar. She and Mari live across the hall from each other. She said that the Life Enrichment staff’s activities were a welcomed interruption of the monotony caused by the isolation of the lockdown. She looked forward to Ashton or Ashley wheeling the cart down their hallway and plugging it in, because she knew the fun was right around the corner. Becky especially appreciated the good sound quality and the portability of the device, which is on wheels. As the staff learns more about the iN2L’s capabilities, the time she spends with the device becomes more interesting because it introduces her to something new each time.

In addition to residents, our Life Enrichment staff loves using this technology. They strongly believe that it has opened new possibilities and options for them to provide enriching experiences for residents. Both staff and residents look forward to learning more about all that iN2L has to offer!

Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry Grant here