As part of its new digiAGE initiative, the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging (OHA), in partnership with the Rhode Island Medicaid Division, today announced $78,000 in grants to 26 local nursing homes to support technology investments. Grant proceeds will be used to purchase smart devices and related accessories that help residents virtually connect with family and friends and access preventative care.
“Having the ability to virtually connect to each other and to information and services is so important, especially in the midst of this global pandemic,” said OHA Director Rose Jones. “Too many Rhode Islanders lack tech access, cutting them off from modern conveniences that are driving every-day life and allowing us to be social and engaged even while physically distanced. Through digiAGE, we hope to empower older Rhode Islanders and promote richer quality of life by bridging this digital divide. I am grateful to Medicaid and our many partners for their commitment to this work, and I look forward to the benefit this investment will have for nursing home residents.”
The digiAGE grant funding will support residents in participating in a host of virtual opportunities, including field trips, wellness classes, and faith-based services – as well as connect with family and friends. The funding is made possible by the federal Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program (CMPRP), which reinvests a portion of fees assessed to nursing facilities nationwide for non-compliance with Medicare/Medicaid regulations into state-level system improvements that benefit nursing-home residents.
“The health effects of isolation are well documented,” said Medicaid Director Benjamin Shaffer, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has assisted so many of us with staying connected to loved ones, employment, and health care. I am pleased to partner with OHA and others on digiAGE to help long-term care facilities invest in technology so their residents can maintain the same important connections.”
Nursing homes receiving grant funding include: Aldersbridge Communities, Ballou Home for the Aged, Cedar Crest Nursing Centre, Cherry Hill Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Eastgate Nursing and Recovery Center, Elmhurst Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, Evergreen House Health Center , Grand Islander Center, Grandview Center, Greenville Center, Greenwood Center, Hattie Ide Chaffee Home, Holiday Retirement Home, Kent Regency, Little Sisters of the Poor – Jeanne Jugan Residence, Mansion Nursing & Rehab Center, Pawtucket Center, Respiratory and Rehab Center of RI, Saint Antoine Community, Saint Elizabeth HOME, Saint Elizabeth Manor, South County Nursing Rehab Center, St. Clare – Newport, Stillwater Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Community, Warren Center, West View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.
The digiAGE Collaborative is a community-driven effort to help connect more older Rhode Islanders and adults living with disabilities to virtual communities and other tech-enabled services and opportunities. Partners in the effort include a growing list of government, non-profit, and business groups committed to developing more accessible content, training, and technology to benefit these users. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 25 percent of U.S. adults age 65+ do not use the internet. It is estimated that an equal percentage of Rhode Island’s older adult population is not online, with the lowest usage among those in lower socio-economic status households. Among Americans living with a disability, Pew reports 23 percent are not online (vs. eight percent of Americans without a disability).
Among other early efforts, the digiAGE Collaborative launched a new web resource at www.oha.ri.gov/digiAGE to better connect older Rhode Islanders to information and opportunities to enhance their digital access and literacy. Grant and loan programs for smart devices, public WiFi maps, and discount internet programs are included. From the site, users can also easily connect to social networks, such as Rhode Island’s first Virtual Community Center. The Center offers full day schedules of free activities, including fitness and cooking classes, games and entertainment, virtual tours, educational courses, live tech help, and more.
For more information about the digiAGE Collaborative, visit www.oha.ri.gov/digiAGE.
MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Connelly