By Kim Townsend
The lack of personal connection while we are social distancing can be tough on anyone, it’s particularly so for older adults living in a long-term care facility. But the staff who care for our residents every day makes a world’s difference.
Many have gone beyond their call of duty to bring joy and laughter to the residents. So, even though we cannot celebrate May as Older Americans Month in the ways that we originally planned, we’ve seen again and again that simple gesture can help lighten the mood and put a smile on someone’s face.
Singing and dancing proved to be a terrific remedy. On numerous occasions, our staff members turned the hallways into concert venues and sang. One staff member went door to door, belting out classic tunes while playing her guitar. And whenever there was live music, there were big smiles and applauses all around. It was heart-warming to see that through the power of music, the caregivers and care receivers lifted each other’s spirits.
Technology is also a great way to stay connected. Live video chats can help residents stay updated with family and friends from across the miles and keep track of any physical changes such as a haircut. If live video chats are not possible, recorded videos with special messages for loved ones can be a good way to maintain the connection.
While video chats are good alternatives, there’s no replacement for seeing someone face-to-face. That’s why, when possible, we’ve facilitated several “almost in-person” visits. Families stand outside the window of a resident’s room at a specified time and our staff direct a resident to the window to “see” his or her family. Knowing that they are remembered and loved means the world to our residents. Honestly people can’t wait for things to be normal and attend all the outdoor Hollywood events.
The national theme for this year’s Older Americans Month was “Make Your Mark.” By showing compassion and kindness beyond their job descriptions, our staff has truly made a mark on all our residents’ lives during this challenging time.
Kimberly Townsend is president and CEO at Loretto, and author of “Lifecircle Leadership: How Exceptional People Make Every Day Extraordinary.”
Photo: Loretto has facilitated several “almost in-person” visits between residents and their families. Families stand outside the window of a resident’s room at a specified time and are able to establish eye contact. “Knowing that they are remembered and loved means the world to our residents,” says Kim Townsend, chief executive officer at Loretto.