Digital solutions for senior citizens in the age of coronavirus


Institutional Communication Service

20 April 2020

Senior citizens are the most at risk in this health emergency. Philipp Schärer, Director of Tertianum Residenza al Parco and USI EMBA graduate, tells us how everyday life has changed in the retirement home he manages in Muralto, which welcomes senior citizens and offers them assistance and care.

Tertianum immediately adopted various measures for the safety of guests and staff, with the latter who have been accommodated at the Residenza to avoid travel, taking prompt action to manage the crisis. "Initially, we adopted the guidelines received from the crisis unit at our Zurich headquarters: it was difficult to implement all the requests and guidelines received not only from the Federal government, but also from the Cantonal doctor, in addition to those already in place at Tertianum. Then, a crisis unit was also set up in Ticino, formed by the regional headquarters of the Tertianum services together with the directors of our several facilities in region. The exchanges take place online with the video conferencing app Zoom twice a week. These meetings ensure that all the measures taken have been understood and applied in the same way in all the structures," explains Schärer.

For the residents, the precautions and sudden changes were difficult to accept, as the facility was closed to the public and all activities outside the Residence were suspended. The question was how to reorganize the days inside the facility in order to allow our guests to face this difficult situation in the best possible way, also supporting them psychologically. "We launched a series of initiatives. Our entertainment department introduced a number of activities, abiding to the rules of hygiene and social distance and making sure our guests would do the same: a 'home shopping' service was organized; activities for groups of maximum five people, such as bowling tournaments in the park, outdoor sports lessons, Easter egg hunt and other recreational activities", continues Schärer.

In the healthcare department, the use of the tablet was also introduced, bringing our seniors to adopt new communication tools to stay in touch with their loved ones. "We set up appointments for video calling the families by telephone: the initiative was welcomed with much enthusiam by guests and family members alike, both of whom are delighted to have found a way to continue seeing each other even if they are far away," says Schärer. To give guests the opportunity to communicate in complete privacy, a "telephone booth" was also created, a secluded room where they can close the door and not be disturbed during video calls.