Editor’s note: This article was published on April 29, 2020. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.
Staying at home and practicing proper social distancing does not mean that you can’t stay connected with your loved ones. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying in touch with family and friends is a great way to manage your mental health and check in on how everyone is doing.
Thanks to modern technology, there are a variety of tools you can use to visit virtually. And while getting started with video chats may seem overwhelming at first, many applications can be quite simple to use. As long as you have an electronic device with a camera, face-to-face conversations are often as simple as a push of a button.
“While we would much rather be face-to-face, we are fortunate to have available the technology that allows us not only to hear but to see one another,” said Marshfield Clinic Health System Spiritual Services manager Chris Schwanz. “And we need to be heard and seen, especially by those we love and those who care for us. As chaplains still present in our hospitals, patients have been ‘bending our ears’ more than usual and we’re finding them to be lonelier and in need of a visit with a familiar face and voice, even if it can only come virtually.”
To help individuals looking to virtually chat with loved ones for the first time, Schwanz offered up some key advice on using video apps and staying connected with family.
There’s an App for that
You can connect with loved ones via video, voice or text. Just search for these common chat apps on your personal device or go to the Apple store (Apple devices) or Google Play Store (Android devices) for free download.
How to start your virtual visit
Step 1: Choose an app. You and the person you are trying to connect with must use the same app. To learn more about the different types of apps available,
Step 2: Connect to Wi-Fi. If you plan to use the video feature of the app you have selected, it’s best to connect to Wi-Fi. Please ask your care team about how you can connect.
Step 3: Open the app and follow the prompts if you’re asked to set up an account or profile. Search for your contacts or enter their phone or email information. Depending on the program, select the plus, phone or video camera icon to begin your call.
Tips to help stay connected:
- Whatever method you use, schedule a time to connect.
Planning around a set part of the day not only makes it easier to chat – it also gives both parties something to look forward to.
- Be aware of other resources that may be available.
Health systems and other organizations may be offering virtual visits for their services.
As an example, Marshfield Clinic Health System’s team of chaplains are able to meet patients and their families through electronic devices. “The pandemic does not change what our mission has always been – to enrich lives,” Schwanz said. “If that requires virtual visiting, then we will utilize it to provide a listening ear and a compassionate presence to all who are in need.”
- If you do not have access to a smartphone, tablet or computer, consider using your in-room phone to visit.