What is it?
If you’re looking for a way to stream YouTube videos to your nursing home’s televisions along with photos, music, NetFlix and even games, then the Google Chromecast might be the cheapest and easiest option to do so.
The Chromecast, pictured above, is a small device that plugs into your television’s HDMI port and connects to the internet via WiFi. From there you can use your phone or iPad as a remote and select from a wide range of apps to play to your television. The most useful app is YouTube; from which you can view a wide range of videos to tailor to your resident’s desires, but you can also show photos directly from your phone and play music via apps like Spotify.
Setting it up
First you’ll need to know whether you can actually use the Chromecast in your nursing home. You’ll need to make sure there’s a wireless internet connection (WiFi) you can connect to that is strong enough to stream videos; you can check this by connecting with your smartphone and playing some videos near the television where you would be using it. Next you’ll have to make sure you have a television with a HDMI port you can easily plug into. It should be located on the back, side or possibly the bottom of the television and should be labelled. You will also need an electrical outlet close by to plug the Chromecast into.
If you have these things you should be able to set up the device and get it working quite quickly. You can buy the Chromecast from JB Hi-Fi for $59 and it comes with instructions for setting it up. The instructions are also covered on Google’s support website, so I’ll leave out the technicalities but it really is simple.
One crucial step though is that you’ll need to download the Google Cast app on any device you want to use as a remote. I use my phone, but you can also download Google Cast on an iPad and use that. Once your Chromecast is all set up, you can stream from compatible apps if you see the Google Cast symbol (circled above in red), just click it and tell it to stream to your Chromecast. Your phone or iPad can now be used to change videos, alter the volume or skip ahead. This is link for the app store, use it for iPads and iPhones. Otherwise for your android devices and for laptops use the Google Play Store.
Running a group
iPads are great for showing videos and photos, but unfortunately their small size and limited sound capabilities make them a poor option for use in larger groups or with residents that have poor eyesight and hearing. The Chromecast is great in these situations, because it allows you to use the bigger screen and better sound of the television, and a whole group can participate and discuss what’s showing.
I would recommend planning out some videos that would be suitable before starting your group. At the bottom of this article I’ve put some suggested playlists, such as old footage from Sydney and a collection of videos from popular musicals. Alternatively, you can get suggestions from the group on what they want to watch and tailor the session to them. Do you have a resident that loves Shirley Temple? Search it! Have a resident that loves cats? The internet has thousands of hours of felines doing funny things. Need to jazz up your exercise class? Use one of the many guided videos for chair exercises. The possibilities are endless.
Of course YouTube is just the beginning. If you go through your Google Cast app on your phone, it will tell you what apps you have that can cast to the television. You can often use this to show photos that you have stored on your phone, but you can also use any music playing apps you have downloaded like Spotify, or Google Play.
If you go to your options in your Google Cast app, there’s also the option to “Cast screen” to the television (see photo below). What this means is you can show whatever is displaying on your phone on the television screen. You can use this with apps like Facebook in order to show holiday photos or anything else of interest.
Lastly, you can also use any streaming sites that you are subscribed to, such as NetFlix or Stan, in order to show movies and television shows to your residents. You should check your data plan before doing this however, as you don’t want to go over your allotted amount of downloads for the month and be charged extra.
There is also a limited amount of games that are compatible with the Chromecast but I have not personally tried them. Trivia based games like Trivia Bash might be worth looking at, if you have any suggestions let me know.
Have any more ideas for how to use Chromecast in aged care? Let me know in the comments. If you have any trouble setting it up or running groups using it feel free to comment and I might be able to help.
Suggested YouTube playlists
How It’s Made compilation ( interesting footage from factories)