Montreal

Isolated seniors get chance to connect during holidays, thanks to free iPads

As the holiday season approaches, West Island groups raised $14,000. That's enough to provide 22 seniors residences and long-term care homes with free iPads and iPad stands.

The iPads are expected to be delivered this week, hope is to brighten up holidays for isolated seniors

Matt Del Vecchio, the president of Lianas Senior Transition Support, has helped raise $14,000 to purchase free iPads for isolated seniors. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

West Island groups have raised enough money to buy iPads for 22 for retirement homes and long-term care facilities, helping isolated seniors connect with family as the holidays approach.

The province is expected to soon issue guidelines for how residents in long-term care can celebrate Christmas with their families. But some families prefer to avoid taking such a risk.

"If you are COVID-free today, you want to stay COVID-free," said Matt Del Vecchio, the president of Lianas Senior Transition Support.

"All the more reason that the video conferencing, especially during the holidays — and this is purposely why we wanted to do it this time around  —  is going to be even more important."

The group launched the fundraiser in collaboration with West Island Community Shares.

The fundraiser was going well, Del Vecchio said, until a $10,000-donation by the Eric T. Webster Foundation put it over the top. 

In all, they raised $14,000. The iPads comes with a stand, which Del Vecchio described as a "secret weapon for health-care workers, because they don't have to hold the iPad anymore."

The devices are expected to be delivered and set up this week.

The group is hoping the iPads will make it easier for seniors to stay in touch with families during the holidays. (Lianas Senior Transition Support)

Residence Le Château Royal in Dollard-des-Ormeaux is one of the facilities that will benefit from the donation.

Nicole Deeb, who's lived in the retirement home for nearly a decade, understands how much the iPads will be able to lift residents' spirits, since she's tech-saavy enough to video call her loved ones with her cell phone.

"They haven't grown up with the technology, and they don't want to learn. When you get old, you don't feel like learning anything new," Deeb said.

"So if it comes to you, it's perfect."

Regardless of what the province ends up deciding, Deeb will likely spend the holidays in the retirement home, away from family.

"Of course I miss seeing them all, but what can we do? It's good to see them now that we have this available," she said.

"We're back together again."

With files from Matt D'Amours

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