OTTAWA -- We use the internet to video chat and connect with others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What if you’re a senior citizen without access to the technology, or the knowledge in how to use it?

Connected Canadians is an Ottawa based non-profit organization that’s providing hardware and the technical support to get seniors online thanks to help from Ruckify.

“Our goal as an organization has always been to allow seniors to connect with loved ones and friends,” explains Emily Jones Joanisse, co-founder and CEO of Connected Canadians.

During COVID-19 isolation, providing technology to seniors is even more important.

“These days with COVID, there are some more basic needs which they need help with, so in terms of buying groceries, learning how to video chat because people aren’t able to visit them as easily anymore, being able to pay bills; those are the sort of things that seniors need to be able to online now,” said Jones Joanisse. 

Susan Davies is a senior citizen living at the Pearly Rideau Senior’s village, “previously, I was only using the computer for email.”

Now, she has learned how to connect with loved ones. 

“I was resistant to FaceTime. I was resistant and well, and I had never before heard of Zoom, but I overcame my dis-interest, and I’m zooming almost everyday, I’m FaceTiming with family and with school friends even from England.”

Connected Canadians is also helping the residents and volunteers at Bruyere by providing technology and support.

 “Oh my Gosh, It’s beautiful - my staff share stories about a resident in long-term care and for the first time they’re seeing their great grandson that’s been born two weeks ago; you have people who are in palliative and end of life care and they’re able to connect with their loved ones,” said Karen Lemaire, Director of Services at Bruyere.

Lemaire explains that it’s also the volunteers who benefit. Most of them have been unable to spend time at the hospital.

“A lot of our volunteers themselves are seniors, and they’re finding it quite challenging to be now at home, and not coming in and doing what they normally do.”

She also says that providing access to technology is important for those living in isolation,

“Being in isolation, and too much time on your own and nobody to talk to, psychologically can be quite damaging.”