These days, multiple generations of people live and work in Alabama nursing homes.

The need to bridge generation gaps and foster communication led one nursing home to put a new spin on social media.

The idea began when Cullman Health & Rehab Center employees observed several of the older residents watching younger residents use laptops and smartphones to check social media accounts. Older residents would often ask the younger ones what they were doing and how it all worked.

The staff decided to create memory books in a style similar to a Facebook page and give one to each resident. They called to books My Facebook and taught the residents how to describe what they did each day and post old memories like they were Facebook status updates. Fellow residents and staff members can read the shared information as if they were friends on Facebook. Residents keep their My Facebook books in their rooms, in pockets in their wheelchair or walker or place it on a bookshelf and refer to it at anytime. Having a treasure chest of lifetime memories for each resident has proved beneficial to caregivers.

“We know the residents on a personal level and who they were based on their past life experiences and how they grew up,” Cullman Health & Rehab Center Activities Director Amanda Treptau said. “This gives us more ways to redirect residents with their behaviors now that we can look back at their history through writing prompts. For example, we know their religious backgrounds and can tailor their care around their beliefs. Some people don’t eat certain foods or don’t eat meat because of their religion and we can address that in their care plan.”

The communication flows in many directions because family members can write observations in their loved ones My Facebook when they visit the nursing center. Staff members record entries similar to leaving message on a friend’s Facebook wall.

“We had family members that called often with questions about what their loved one did,” Treptau said. “This helps open their eyes about where their loved one is cognitively and shows the staff members are working with them. They (family) can look at the binder and then write things in it such as ‘I visited with Mom and this is what I see is going on.’ They can also leave notes for whomever they’re visiting and the staff can look back and tell the residents who came to see them that day.”

Cullman Health & Rehab Center staff felt it was important to submit My Facebook as an Alabama’s Best Practices presentation so more people can benefit from the program.

“Any program you can find, whether it is My Facebook or something different, that can explore who their residents are as a person and not a medical number in a chart will be a great benefit to the resident,” Treptau concludes.

Cullman Health & Rehab Center will present “My Facebook” at Alabama’s Best Practices on August 27, 2015, in Birmingham.

Click here for detailed information on how to implement Cullman Healthcare & Rehab Center’s best practice in your nursing home.