apple_ipad_3gA virtual trip home to Puerto Rico via Google maps brought a smile to the face of a New York City nursing home resident and opened the door to lively conversation, thanks to a program partnership between Bekeley College and Jewish Home’s Manhattan nursing home.

Students enrolled in Berkeley’s Academic Service Learning (ASL) course entitled “Issues in Contemporary Health” team with the Activities department of Jewish Home to use iPads to enhance the lives of the nursing home residents.

“The iPad is very light and compact, and easy to use. Its use provided stimulation and built new relationships, giving the residents an out-of-the ordinary experience,” said John Zanetich, PhD, Health Services Administration, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies, who taught the ASL course.

Miriam Levi, Director of Community Life Activities at Jewish Home, is excited at the results of the ASL study.

“Berkeley College students really opened our eyes to how residents can benefit from the use of iPads,” Ms. Levi said. “Before the study we were unsure of how exactly the iPads would impact the elders that we serve.”

The ASL students discovered that most of the selected group of nursing home residents with whom they worked were eager to use the iPads. The residents enjoyed zooming in on familiar neighborhoods via Google maps, and listening to books through the Interactive Reader. In addition to recreational use, the healthcare students recommended using the iPad for therapeutic, medical and social purposes in the nursing home environment.

“In the future, we hope to receive more donations of iPads that our Therapeutic Recreation Staff can use with residents on each unit,” Ms. Levi said.

The nursing home residents weren’t the only ones to benefit from the ASL study. Students’ lives were also impacted.

“I met a wonderful 90-year-old lady who loved visiting her grandson’s Facebook page and looking at his photos,” said Nancy Veliz, who is pursuing a Health Services Management degree at Berkeley College, New York City. “She told me stories about her life. It was really interesting – like listening to a book.”

Joanna Jara, who also is enrolled in the Health Services Management program, found the ASL project very rewarding.

“The residents were fascinated with the iPads,” Ms. Jara said. “One lady, who is 89, wanted to use the iPad to connect with her best friend in upstate New York. I set her up with an e-mail address, and they exchanged messages and photos. It was so nice to see that.”