COVID Chronicles – Part 6: Activities
COVID Chronicles – Part 6: Activities
For seniors living in skilled nursing communities across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic not only posed significant risks to their health, but led to cancelling almost all group activities. Residents were now required to remain in their suites, and with these social distancing rules in place, community Activity Directors were faced with the challenge of how to keep residents engaged and entertained, while protecting them from feelings of isolation and sadness.
“I worried at first about the residents not having group activities, visitors and outings,” said Samantha B., Activities Director at Carlton Shores, a Greystone Health community. “We took it step by step, constantly communicating with residents on what was happening and how we would always be there for them.
“Every resident is now on the one-to-one program,” she said, “which allows each resident to receive visits from the Activities Department a few times a day, with all approved social distancing and PPE protocols in place. We also offer window visits, video chats with friends and families, and daily psychosocial questions. We play music for residents, talk with them, and entertain them every chance we get.”
Dakotah N., Recreational Therapy Specialist at Greystone Health, agreed that individualized attention for each resident is a key element in helping avoid isolation.
“We really focus on one-on-one time with a staff member for residents,” Dakotah said. “This includes different theme days or events with mobile activities. It really helps to avoid feelings of loneliness. We want the residents to feel like they have one-on-one time each day, and truly feel like they are being heard. We also implemented video calls and window visits to ensure residents were able to see their loved ones.”
“Our community was able to stream content from a laptop directly to every television in the facility,” Samantha said. “This allows us to safely offer daily Bingo, as well as show movies, trivia, exercises, concerts, animal shows and religious services. We also have a weekly theme cart – we decorate the cart, show programs and play music related to the theme, dress in costumes, and pass out snacks.”
Corazon B., Activity Director at Fox River of Elgin, a Greystone community, also featured a weekly theme cart for residents.
“We created a fun way to entertain residents by decorating a cart every week which was full of goodies like ice cream, lemonade, sports memorabilia, and even waffles,” Corazon said.
By continuing to provide individualized daily activities while promoting safe social distancing, the activities departments were able to entertain residents throughout the pandemic.
“Under the circumstances, my team has done an amazing job with trying to keep residents involved and engaged,” Dakotah said. “I am forever in awe of their creativity, dedication, and pioneer spirit in these unprecedented times. If it’s not a pirate ship cart, it’s an Activities Director dressed in an inflatable T-Rex Costume.”
“Our most significant accomplishment is never letting our residents down,” Samantha said. “They came to us with problems, and we were there to listen and keep them smiling.”
“Activities make a big impact on lives of residents and staff,” Corazon said. “I am very thankful that I am part of this facility – I say kudos to all the staff members who have gone above and beyond during this pandemic.”
An exciting board game. An entertaining afternoon of music. Or just a kind word. Protecting seniors from the risks of COVID-19 infection is critically important, but keeping them safe from loneliness and depression is also vital. At Greystone Health communities, our dedicated activity professionals work tirelessly each day to plan and implement a calendar of socially distant activities, while bringing a smile to each resident’s face.
Greystone Health is truly an organization Where People Matter. We are doing everything we can to protect our residents and staff, and will continue this commitment in the days, weeks and months to come.