Heart2Heart delivered 70 iPads to 11 care centers in the last two weeks, marking the official start of the new iPads for Seniors program.
The iPads will be shared among the residents at each of the centers. Seniors can use them for everything from connecting to loved ones and Heart2Heart volunteers to keeping up with the news and watching church services.
“We’ve had really good feedback,” said Heart2Heart Digital Outreach Coordinator Marisela Martinez. “We’re excited to finally put the iPads in the hands of seniors.”
Ivonhe Mantilla volunteered early to be part of the iPads for Seniors program. Over the last several months, she began making connections with seniors at Glades West in Miramar, at first trying phone calls.
“Just doing a phone call randomly, it was a little tricky,” Ivonhe explained. “I’ve been traveling to the center just so they can see me first, so then I can call them. It establishes that relationship so much easier.”
Ivonhe was excited to finally be able to connect via video call, now that the iPads have been delivered to Glades West.
“It is totally different seeing someone face-to-face,” she said. “I’m so happy. I think it’s going to be very successful, and I think they’re going to appreciate the connection.”
Ironically, the day Heart2Heart dropped off the iPads to Glades West, the center was forced into a covid-19 lockdown. Ivonhe was on her way to visit in person when she found out.
“We’re not out of the woods, and maybe we never will be,” she said. “It’s good to be ready for these types of situations. We have the tools to continue to communicate.”
Beyond delivering the iPads, Heart2Heart’s goal is to teach the seniors how to use them with weekly classes. Some of the centers have the staff to lead their own iPad training classes. Other centers will be assigned a Heart2Heart volunteer, trained to teach seniors the basics of navigating the new devices each week.
Marisela led the first iPad class at Grand Villa of Deerfield on June 22.
“We started very slowly,” she explained. “Most of the seniors went straight to Google and started looking for the news.”
One senior was surprised to find and watch her favorite local news channel. Another found a YouTube video of himself being interviewed six years ago.
One resident was able to talk with his son through the Virtual Visits app installed on the iPads. The bigger screen was easier to see and hold compared to FaceTiming on his phone, he told Heart2Heart.
Heart2Heart digital volunteers like Ivonhe are ready to connect with seniors who are experiencing loneliness, using the iPads as a tool.
“Even if they don’t get family visits but once in a while, it’s nice to talk to someone that’s totally new, and they get to tell me their story,” Ivonhe explained. “It’s refreshing for me as well. It’s nice to learn from what they are going through.”
Heart2Heart is looking for new care center partnerships for the iPad for Seniors program. If you know a senior living at a care center in Broward County who could benefit from connecting via an iPad, please contact Marisela Martinez at 954-315-2218 or Mari@heart2heartoutreach.org.