Supporting Vulnerable Older Adults With Telehealth Through Wellness Calls and Tablet Distribution During COVID-19: Quality Improvement Project

JMIR Form Res. 2023 Sep 11:7:e46002. doi: 10.2196/46002.


Background: Loneliness, social isolation, and lack of technical literacy are associated with poorer health outcomes. To help improve social connection during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Southeastern University's South Florida Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program partnered with a community-based organization to provide educational resources to promote telehealth services.

Objective: This study aimed to provide educational resources to older adults with limited resources and promote the use of telehealth services in this population.

Methods: Through this pilot project, we contacted 66 vulnerable older adults who expressed interest in telehealth support through wellness calls, with 44 participants moving on to participate in tablet usage. All tablets were preloaded with educational information on using the device, COVID-19 resources, and accessing telehealth services for patients, caregivers, and families.

Results: Feedback from wellness assessments suggested a significant need for telehealth support. Participants used the tablets mainly for telehealth (n=6, 15%), to connect with friends and family (n=10, 26%), and to connect with faith communities (n=3, 8%).

Conclusions: The findings from the pilot project suggest that wellness calls and telehealth education are beneficial to support telehealth usage among older adults.

Keywords: COVID-19; digital health; health education; health literacy; isolation; mental health; mental wellness; older adults; social isolation; telehealth; telemedicine.