Best Buy, Google help Canadian seniors connect with loved ones

Living in a pandemic is challenging. For many, the hardest part is being separated from loved ones.

With social distancing practices widely recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a sense of isolation and loneliness can set in — especially for those who dwell in senior living communities. In many areas, visits from friends and family are temporarily prohibited or greatly restricted.

Best Buy and Google recognized this and knew technology could help people stay connected while apart. So, they teamed up to donate Google Nest Hub Max devices to more than 300 private and public senior living residences across Canada.

These devices are being set up in private spaces within the buildings so residents — now numbering nearly 40,000 country-wide — can use the Google Duo app to conduct personal, face-to-face, live conversations with friends and family.

“The role that social connection plays in the lives of humans is paramount. Seniors around the world have been deeply impacted by COVID-19, and bringing any kind of reassurance and virtual touch into their lives through the use of technology is a rewarding task,” said Sara Aghvami, director of Best Buy Health. “Best Buy Canada had the pleasure of partnering with Google to make this happen. It is heartwarming to see family and friends gain comfort in knowing they can see and hear their loved ones from anywhere.”

Since the Google Nest Hub Max was designed as a one-per-household type of device, the Best Buy Health team created a way to enable the devices to be shared among residents for this initiative. Additionally, the team established rigorous safety precautions, such as shipping units directly to the care centers, creating a step-by-step guide for on-site care workers to set up and manage the devices, and cleaning the units between uses.

Geek Squad Agents are also available to provide virtual support for staff to ensure the experience is as seamless as possible.

“This is so wonderful, and we are so thankful to receive this,” said a senior living center employee. “We set it up in the common area and the residents are loving it to talk to, ask questions and play music.”