GALION — Administrators and staff at area nursing homes and assisted living facilities are making sure residents are comfortable and reassured during the coronavirus quarantine, even though family and friends are not allowed to visit.
At Magnolia Terrace Assisted Living Facility, administrator Susan Snyder said tresidents are having a great time.
“We’ve implemented ‘puzzle packs’ and we do those on a daily basis in their rooms, and we’re still doing our regular activities, but we just do them one-on-one,” she said.
“We have several family members who write on cardboard stock, letters and messages to the residents, and hold them up to their windows,” Snyder said. “And we have a pet therapy dog that lives here. Her name is Luna. She goes in and out of the residents’ apartments as well. And some of them like to play ball with her and they go out in the hall, one at a time, and play ball with her.
“We do all kinds of things with them still, being very creative and staying within those (social distancing) boundaries while still making sure the residents have a quality of life,” Snyder said. “Some of them just want to get out and walk, so if they get out, we make sure there is nobody else is in the hallways.”
She noted some residents are keeping up with the news, but noted staff are trying to keep them busy so they don’t dwell on it.
“Once they finish a puzzle, we check with them and when they finish it, they get a candy bar or something like that. We’re really trying to keep them occupied.
“Residents talk to each other by the phone, they call each other and they are Facetiming family members,” she noted. “We have a tablet, so they’re talking to their loved ones with the tablet.
“The activities staff makes certain those calls are made and make sure they are staying connected,” Snyder said. “And their family members are calling constantly and talking with them.”
At Signature Health Care of Galion, activities director Jordan Kuns, said they are doing messages from home, posting messages from residents on their Facebook page to family members to let them know how they are doing.
“We’re actually in the process of setting up a Facetime situation where residents can Facetime their family members on the outside,” Kuns said. “We play a lot of hallway bingo, and we’ve been passing out trivia packets, and then the next morning we come in an my assistant and I kind of grade them and see how they did then go over it with them and have conversation starters … a little one-on-one time.”
She said they are planning a window painting activity where residents can paint on their windows to add some color and artistic flare to their rooms. Additionally, Kuns said they are going to do some inside gardening, passing out potted plants.
Kuns said some of the residents are watching TV, trying to keep up with the news and if they have any questions she said staff will try to answer them the best as they can.
A Mill Creek Nursing, LPN, admissions and aocial aervices adviser Angie Utz, said they have been doing a lot of Skyping with families.
“Those who don’t want to do that, we actually have Activities assistants going in and calling families for the residents…making sure they have that communication. We are posting things on Facebook for families to see that everything is still OK here,” she said. “And we’re doing hallway bingo, where residents sit outside their doors. We’re providing puzzle packets to their rooms and we’re doing a lot of baking and taking that to residents as well.
“We’re doing wellness visits on a daily basis, making sure everyone is OK and that they are getting their needs met and getting that communications with the families that they need,” Utz noted.
It’s a busy time for all.
“We not only have staff taking care of them, but we have activities staff going around several times a day making sure they have someone to sit down and talk to,” Utz said. “Residents are doing good, because we’re trying to keep it as normal as we can to try to shelter them from what’s going on out there so they don’t get upset or worried. We’re trying to keep their normal routine because that is what they need the most.”
Natalie Rhodes, a licensed nursing home administrator at JAG Healthcare of Galion (Galion Pointe), said they are trying hard to keep open communication with the residents to let them know what the news is, while keeping routines as normal as can be.
“We want to reassure them that we are going to do everything we can to keep them as comfortable as possible,” Rhodes said. “I thought it was fun because last week we started bingo in the hallway. I also started a newsletter for residents that has a joke of the day, trivia of the day and a word search of the day. As long as they are six feet apart, there is still quite a bit you can get done.
“We have an activities cart that goes around just like we used to pass snacks. We do that with activities as well,” Rhodes noted. “They can check something out, kind of like a mobile library.”
To allow the residents to keep socializing, Rhodes said staff often will stand in the doorways and talk to them. “I purchased and iPad so they can Facetime with their loved ones,” she added. “And I did let families know they can email any letters they want to their loved one and we’ll print them out.”
Rhodes said residents want to be reassured, but at the same time they don’t want to be annoying.
“They don’t want to pester, but they need to be reassured, that’s something we’re doing,” she noted. “We also have a community board where we put updates.”
Staff and administrators at Magnolia Terrace are doing what then can to keep residents occupied during the COVID-19 crisis. Despite not being able to allow visitors, the goal is to keep life as normal as possible. They have lots of ways to do that, including crafts, and play-time with Luna a therapy dog who loves to play fetch.
Social distance is a key phrase at nursing home and assisted living facilities. Residents spend a lot of times in their rooms, but staff make certain they keep their distance during a game of hallway bingo.