collins 040721CHICAGO – After a year of social isolation, families could soon communicate with their loved ones in long-term care facilities through videoconferencing, social media and other technology thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) that was approved in the Senate Health Subcommittee on Long Term Care and Aging Tuesday.

“Social isolation in nursing homes can affect residents’ long-term health and well-being,” Collins said. “It’s important that long-term care residents can communicate and spend time with family to prevent social isolation, even if they can’t see their loved ones in person.”

Under Collins’ plan, the Illinois Department of Public Health would require each long-term care facility to adopt policies to provide technology to residents, as well as staff training to prevent social isolation among residents.

This technology would give long-term care residents access to the internet, videoconferencing, social media or other means of communication, providing the opportunity to talk with loved ones, attend church and engage in recreational activities safely.

Collins was inspired to sponsor the measure, an initiative of AARP, after many long-term care residents experienced severe social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has shown us that isolation from others is challenging, but there are lots of ways to stay connected virtually,” Collins said. “In this day and age, being able to talk to a loved one in a long-term care facility should be effortless.”

Senate Bill 2137 will be heard by the Senate Health Committee.