New technology helps residents celebrate

This article submitted by Erin Aagesen on 12/8/99.

Interactive tv The Paynesville Good Samaritan Care Center opened its distance learning network to the public last Saturday during the first annual "Remember Me Day,' a celebration of seniors and those who care for them. Residents and guests watched author Tom Hegg read from his book, 'A Cup of Christmas Tea' over interactive television.

Distance learning was started by the Good Samaritan Society and runs out of its central office in Sioux Falls, S.D. Through satellites, the central office is able to project programs from its state of the art studio to the 240 Good Samaritan nursing homes across the country. Viewers (as seen at right) watch the live broadcast on a television set and can interact with what is going on in the central office through a phone-like device called a response unit.

The Distance learning system was implemented in Paynesville earlier this year and so far has been used mainly to train staff in specific areas.

Mari Louis, staff development coordinator at the Paynesville Good Samaritan Care Center, says that the distance learning has been a very valuable tool for her. She oversees the training of staff through the distance learning. "It has been immensely helpful," she commented. "It has cut down on my preparation time for these courses. It also allows us to have immediate response, because we are able to call in during the broadcast. We are also able to hear questions raised by other people, and often we‘re dealing with the same issues."

According to Louis, broadcasts go on at least twice a week for specific staff areas, and eight times a month for certified nursing assistants who need to keep up their required training.

Tom Kooiman, administrator at the Good Samaritan, said, "The distance learning saves both time and money. Instead of staff having to travel to get their training, they can do it here."

Kooiman also discussed the possibility of college courses being offered over distance learning through Concordia College. "Education is changing by coming towards the people," he said.

Last Saturday's ‘Remember Me Day' events were also a change for the center. It was the first time the distance learning was used for entertainment purposes. Tom Hegg read from his book, ‘A Cup of Christmas Tea' from the main studio in Sioux Falls. It was then projected to each of the Good Samaratin Centers.

The reading was shown in a main room in Paynesville and also in each resident‘s room every hour during the celebration, which lasted from 1 to 4 p.m.. The reading was live the first time it was shown. After that, a tape of his reading was shown.

In addition to listening to the reading, residents and their guests had coffee and cookies. A bake and craft sale was held, and some crafts were made by the residents.

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