Long-term care residents will soon be able to connect virtually with their loved ones, thanks to a series of local grants.

The grants from community foundations are helping the Vancouver Island Regional Library combat social isolation in care homes.

The library is using the money to provide digital care packages, including Chromebooks, Chromecast, Smart TVs, and internet subsidies.

It’s reached out to 65 care facilities — 26 have already confirmed their interest and are getting a care package. 

Communities with participating facilities include Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Masset, Port Alberni, and the Comox Valley.

VIRL staff have recently turned their attention to other facilities and organizations that would benefit from these resources, including youth centres, outreach organizations, and more.

“By offering digital tools and resources, we’re building resilience, and providing the means for people to connect with loved ones, take advantage of VIRL’s digital resources, participate in virtual library events, and build important digital literacy skills,” says Anne O’Shea, VIRL’s deputy executive director and COO. 

“In the era of COVID-19, social connections and digital access are crucially important. I would like to thank all of the participating Community Foundations for supporting this important undertaking for our communities.”

A breakdown of the digital packages include:

  • Chromebooks: simple to use laptops that provide access to important cloud-based apps;
  • Chromecasts: Devices that allow Smart TVs to cast the screens of tablets and smartphones;
  • Smart TVs: Flat screen TVs with internet access and the ability to cast from other devices;
  • Internet subsidies: Help with the monthly cost of maintaining an internet subscription for a six-month period.

Support: Staff and residents will receive support from library staff to set up their digital care packages, connect to library services and learn about the hundreds of thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, TV shows, movies and classes available online through virl.bc.ca.

The first partner facility to receive its package was Qualicum Manor in Qualicum Beach. 

The long term care facility requested and received a Smart TV, Chromebook and Chromecast for its residents.

“We are incredibly grateful to have received our digital care package courtesy of VIRL,” say Leanne Brown and Lonnie Smith, activity directors at Qualicum Manor. 

“We look forward to sharing these valuable resources with our residents and helping them get more comfortable and acclimatized with this important technology.”

Equipment for the other partner facilities has arrived and digital care packages are being prepared to be shipped. 

To date, VIRL has received $56,516 in funding from the following Community Foundations:

Alberni Valley Community Foundation – $6,441

Comox Valley Community Foundation – $7,145

Gwaii Trust – $3,175

Nanaimo Foundation – $21,435

Parksville Qualicum Community Foundation – $8,320

Victoria Foundation – $10,000

The funding is part of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, totalling $350 million nationwide.