Connect Your Residents With Loved Ones Through “Virtual Visits”
Because many assisted living communities and nursing homes have restricted visits for the foreseeable future, providing an alternative way for residents to stay in touch with their loved ones has become more important than ever. Keeping families updated with regular Facebook Live posts from administrators and staff is a welcome step, as is having residents talk directly to their friends and family.
All of this is possible, and surprisingly easy to do, with live video streaming. We’ll go over the basics, from a simple stream with a smartphone, to dedicated equipment that lets you offer a space for any resident to sit down and chat “face to face” with a loved one on the other end. We know learning new technology can be intimidating, but livestreaming is not that difficult. For example, Houses of Worship have embraced livestreaming as the best way to stay in touch with their congregations during this trying time. Even small churches have been able to get their services online, quickly, easily, and affordably. We know of their successes, because our friendly and knowledgeable Full Compass staff has been helping them every step of the way. And we’re here for the assisted living community, too—just call 800-356-5844, and we’ll answer any questions you have.
Let’s start with a method that’s so simple, anyone can do it.
THE EASIEST, MOST BASIC WAY TO STREAM
Using Facebook Live on your phone or tablet
- Tap on your smartphone or tablet’s Facebook app. If you don’t have the app, it’s a free download from Apple’s App Store for iPhone, or the Google Play store for Android. After downloading, open the app, decide on a user name and password, and you’re ready to go.
- Find the “What’s on your mind?” box and select “Live” from the options below it.
- Type a description of your livestream.
- Tap “Start Live Video” when you’re ready and use your phone as a video camera.
- Tap “Finish” when you’re done.
That’s all you need to do to perform a basic livestream and help keep residents connected. However, you can also improve the quality, with a steadier image and clearer audio, almost as easily. We’ve assembled a few products and bundles below, with options for every budget and for communities of every size.
TURN YOUR PHONE INTO A SELF-CONTAINED STREAMING KIT
Shure designed this kit specifically for quick and easy livestreaming—it’s the ideal combination of convenience and rock-solid Shure gear. The MV-88 Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone is a substantial upgrade over your smartphone’s internal mic and will do a better job of picking up residents’ voices for viewers on the other end. What’s more, the Manfrotto PIXI Tripod will keep the picture steady. The kit includes cables that are compatible with both Android (USB-C) and Apple iOS (Lightning connector) smartphones. Just snap in your phone and start streaming.
ADD A QUALITY WEBCAM TO A LAPTOP OR DESKTOP COMPUTER
Most laptops have a built-in camera, but they’re chosen for price instead of quality, and are notorious for being restricted to unflattering angles. And, many desktop computers don’t come with a camera at all. These five USB cameras are easy-to-use, affordable, and capture HD (High Definition) video.
Featuring automatic light correction, this Logitech camera produces sharp video even with low lighting. The standout audio feature is a built-in mic that uses noise reduction technology to help minimize distracting background noises.
With a true HD picture (1080p widescreen at 30 frames per second) and an auto-focus function to take the guesswork out of obtaining the best focus, the C920S HD Pro is a highly advanced camera for the price.
Adjustability sets this camera and mic combo apart from the rest. The long neck and pan, zoom, and tilt functionality let you find the perfect angle for anyone recording a livestream. The package also includes a remote control, which allows the video’s subject to set up the shot—this is perfect for administrators making a video by themselves.
When a high-quality image is paramount, this camera offers exceptional definition—1920 x 1080p HD—while the frame rate of 60 frames per second gives a smooth, fluid feel to the video. To simplify setup, this camera’s internal sensors adapt to your computer’s specs to find the best resolution for the stream.
If durability and reliability are your main concerns, the GoPro HERO7 is a popular, proven choice. It’s built to withstand drops, and still record high-quality video for years to come. Image stabilization makes it look like you’re using a tripod, even when you’re not. Another great feature, hands-free voice controls, let you start and stop the recording while you’re sitting in front of the camera.
WHAT YOU NEED IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A CAMERA
Encoders take the video signal from your camera and put a higher-quality version onto the web. Sure, all you need is a smartphone and Facebook for a basic stream. But if you want to use a standalone camera, or put this video on another livestreaming platform, you’ll either need to dedicate a computer or more simply, use an encoder box to do all the processing. Here are three, easy-to-set up encoders that produce a broadcast-quality stream.
The Datavideo NVS-33 has enough functionality for professional use but is designed so that anyone can operate it. You need a tablet or computer for the initial setup, but after that, you can start or stop a stream by pressing a single button.
This is one of our best-selling encoders, because it’s the optimum balance of usability and performance. It allows you to stream and save a master recording at the same time, so even after the stream is over, you’ll have a copy to give to friends or family.
With higher-end cameras, you’ll want an encoder that can take advantage of the improved video quality. The Helo supports 3G-SDI and HDMI and can produce a stream in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second for a smooth, detailed picture.
PTZ Cameras (Pan, Tilt, and Zoom) are a popular choice because they perform well in any number of environments, are easy to install and use, and are packed full of the latest technology while nonetheless remaining affordable.
For the highest resolution commonly available, and the most life-like streaming experience, this 4K PTZ Camera from Panasonic captures all the details. Its wide-angle lens and tight zoom make it a good choice for both large and small spaces.
Featuring lightning-fast autofocus, smooth pans and tilts, high-quality imaging, and exceptional color reproduction, this camera helps make anyone look like a professional videographer.
CAMERA AND JOYSTICK CONTROLLER BUNDLES
These final two bundles are for adding some more options to your stream. Let’s say you have a whole group in for the chat, or you want to show the viewer at home some more of the surrounding environment. A PTZ Controller gives you broadcast-quality zooms, pans, and focus. Both of these packages plug right into your computer, with no encoder needed.
This package includes:
- 2.12MP Generation 2 USB 3.0 PTZ Camera With 20x Zoom
- Compact PTZ Joystick Camera Controller
Total Bundle Price: $1,299.00
Full of features like brightness adjustments and manual focus, this controller adds production qualities to your stream that are above and beyond basic setups. And the flexible, easy-to-use full HD camera performs well in any number of environments.
This package includes:
- 2.12MP Generation 2 USB 3.0 PTZ Camera With 20x Zoom
- Third Generation IP Joystick Keyboard, Power over Ethernet (PoE) Capable
Total Bundle Price: $2,399.00
Capable of recording rich video in low light environments on account of its wide dynamic range, this PTZOptics camera was designed to be the ideal combination of advanced technology and ease of use. The controller is intuitive as well, so inexperienced operators can direct a professional-looking stream after a short training session.
Many more solutions can be found right here: Streaming for Assisted Living Communities
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
When we can’t visit in person, video chatting can be the next best thing. Sure, life will return to normal, but that may take a while—and visits to assisted-living communities could still be discouraged for quite some time. Live video streaming provides a lifeline of comfort and support to your residents and their families and will remain so for family members that live at a distance, even after the current pandemic is just a memory.
As you can see, there are many options for budgets and communities of all sizes. But you don’t have to venture into livestreaming alone, because you have a team of Full Compass Professionals just a phone call away. If you have questions about any of these products, or require a custom solution for your specific needs, call us at 800-356-5844—we’re here to help.