Salem raises funds for “ABBY”

A wall mounted display, ABBY is designed to engage residents through touchscreen activities, familiar tactile experiences such as turning a wheel and flipping a switch, and a mix of personalized images and media. (HRISTO TODOROV)

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Salem Home is preparing to install “ABBY”, a new ambient technology that is changing the lives of people with dementia in long term care.
A wall mounted display, it is designed to engage residents through touchscreen activities, familiar tactile experiences such as turning a wheel and flipping a switch, and a mix of personalized images and media. Use of this technology has produced noticeable behaviour improvements such as reduced agitation, anxiety and aggression.
The Salem Home Ladies Auxiliary will host their second annual barbecue and silent auction on Wednesday, June 12 to raise funds for the device.
Salem Foundation Coordinator and Ladies Auxiliary President Hilda Friesen said they first found ABBY in a magazine, and it quickly won support as something Salem could benefit from.
“They were very, very excited about it,” she said of fellow auxiliary members.
Sherry Janzen, Executive Director of the Salem Foundation said the device would be a great addition to Salem Home.
“We’re always looking for ways to engage our residents in their environment, or finding things for them to do that give them meaning and purpose during their day,” she said.
Janzen said they can also personalize ABBY. Using bracelets or tags that the residents would have with them, ABBY could be programmed to show their images as they near it.
“You can actually load their family pictures in there, you can load content that would be very specific to them,” she said.
It can also speak different languages, although at this point Low German is not one of them.
The units cost $7,000 each and Friesen said they’d love to be able to purchase two.
“Last year was our first year doing the barbecue and we raised around $9,000, and so we’re hoping to do more this year,” she said.
Janzen said at Salem Home 93 per cent of their residents have dementia and 78 per cent have what’s called “responsive behaviours”, which ABBY is designed to mitigate. “Anything that we can introduce that provides a sense of normalcy for these individuals is to their benefit, but also to the staff’s,” she said.
Director of Resident Care Services Marilyn Nelson is looking forward to seeing ABBY become a part of the facility.
“I can see ABBY as a very useful way for staff to interact with residents, but also a way for families to interact with their loved one when they come to visit,” she said. “I can’t wait to see them in use by residents in Salem Home.”
The barbecue and silent auction will take place on Wednesday, June 12 on the south parking lot at Salem Home (165-15th St., Winkler). Supper will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with the silent auction draws at 7:15 p.m.
The barbecue is by donation. The event will feature musical entertainment by the Quonset Brothers starting at 5:30 p.m.
Formed in 2013 the band plays many classic country songs, covering artists like Don Williams, John Denver, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hank Williams, Bellamy Brothers and more. They also perform gospel songs including quartet numbers.

A wall mounted display, ABBY is designed to engage residents through touchscreen activities, familiar tactile experiences such as turning a wheel and flipping a switch, and a mix of personalized images and media. (HRISTO TODOROV)

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