Interactive technology at Merriman House creates camaraderie

March 05, 2020
“Sharon,” a resident at the Merriman House Nursing Home at Memorial Hospital, touches a computer screen to open her favorite game “Piggy Bankers.” Sharon is the game’s ringleader - she corrals many of the residents to play the word scramble game alongside her.

“I wish we could find a word to use the letter Z with!” Sharon exclaims.

This group game is a daily occurrence at Merriman House, which is home to 40 residents and two It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L) computer systems, which offer senior-friendly applications and programs.
The iN2L computer system is a picture-based, touch-screen that allows residents to easily navigate their way to interactive educational, spiritual and personalized content for their ability level.

From using e-mail and photos to connect with family and friends, to improving hand eye coordination, residents with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities, many of whom have never used a computer before, embrace this adapted technology.

“It’s Never 2 Late engages all residents – we use it every day,” said Kim Demers, registered nurse and Merriman House Administrator. “It encourages socialization among residents. You can really tailor it to a group.”

Terese Billeaud, Merriman House Activities Coordinator, stressed that many applications available on iN2L are educational, but also help residents to reminisce and remember pieces of their life. Residents can watch old commercials and television shows, plus participate in trivia, which covers everything from music across the generations, to the cost of products when they were growing up.

“This technology provides an opportunity for residents to have conversations with each other about common interests and participate in new activities,” said Billeaud. “They love to play games and karaoke together and use Skype to video chat with their family members.”

There’s even an option on iN2L that allows a resident to make a short, interactive video about themselves and their preferences, which they can share with the group. Demers and Billeaud say this is a great tool to make a resident feel comfortable in their new home.

Currently, the computers are on two roll-around carts that can be moved throughout the nursing home and connected to larger television screens.

iN2L provides monthly updates to the system, so there is never a lack of new movies, games and activities for residents. They also provide staff training and education, specifically on age-related diseases.

Due to the program’s popularity among staff, residents and family members, Billeaud and Demers plan to order tablets with the iN2L applications for residents in the near future.

As Sharon’s big game of Piggy Bankers wraps up, the residents agree to watch I Love Lucy on the big screen next. They’ll play again tomorrow.