The Shelby County Health Department and the Office of Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris have launched Senior Tech Connect to provide $5,000 micro-grants to qualifying assisted care living facilities and homes for the aged to increase residents’ access to virtual communication.

“One of the unintended consequences of the limits on visits to long-term care facilities is that some residents are feeling the pangs of social isolation,” said Harris. “Access to digital devices and virtual visits are not perfect substitutes for in-person visits from your daughter, son, or loved one. But, it does help residents maintain connection as we all attempt to keep safe and slow the spread.”

The micro-grant can be used to implement, sustain or expand a facility’s capacity to offer virtual visitation to its residents. Devices, such as iPads, tablets, and webcams, and/or accessories, such as headphones, protective covers, sim cards, etc., can be purchased using the funds.

Grantees also may elect to use the micro-grant funds to support subscription fees for video conferencing services. All expenditures must be used only for the purposes of virtual visitation between residents and loved ones and telehealth visits.

Licensed assisted care living facilities and homes for the aged located within Shelby County can apply by completing a brief application and providing a copy of the facility’s W-9 Tax ID form.

All applications must include a brief description of the facility’s plan for use of the micro-grant funds, including what type of equipment will be used, how residents will access the purchased items, how residents will be educated or trained on the use of the equipment, and how equipment will be sanitized, if applicable.

Shelby County Health Department Population Health Bureau Director Cynthia Nunnally is the program manager.

“Seniors are a priority risk group because of the high risk of complications with COVID-19,” Nunnally said. “While social distancing is intended to protect individuals from the virus physically, the unintended consequence of social isolation may occur. To support residents’ health and quality of life, the Shelby County Health Department is thrilled to administer Senior Tech Connect.”

To apply, owners or qualified representatives can access the application at covid19.shelbycountytn.gov. The deadline for licensed facilities to apply is Sept. 30.

To submit an application, complete the form, scan and email it, along with a copy of your W-9 Form, to [email protected] or mail to Cynthia Nunnally, 814 Jefferson Ave., Memphis, TN 38105.

Nunnally also can be reached at 901-222-9046.