By Rose Fabrick, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
The strength of the human spirit has been amazing to witness through this COVID-19 pandemic. Although it has been a disruption on our work and personal lives, I have witnessed repeatedly how my fellow humans have rallied together to help each other, and to express kindness and love to one another.
I am so proud of my co-workers at Concierge Care Advisors for working together to find new ways to continue the important work to serve seniors and their families with care and transition. We do look forward to getting back to normal. In the meantime, while abiding by the Washington State Stay Home Stay Safe order, we are assisting families with transition for their elder loved ones.
A sudden need for transition – discharge from the hospital due to a change in health condition – is emotionally challenging for the senior and family. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary to incorporate safety measures to the transition process in order to protect the residents and staff in the assisted living community or adult family home. Family members entrust the care and support for their elder one to the Provider and staff without contact – temporarily – until the COVID-19 pandemic is cleared. Communities and adult family homes have become creative with finding ways for families to communicate with their loved ones. One example is setting up FaceTime or Zoom connections with their senior resident and family. One Adult Family Home provider purchased iPads for each resident living in each of their 8 homes. The Caregivers in these homes were quickly trained on the iPads so they can support their residents’ communication with family. Families have also had to be flexible and creative. One son brought his children to see their grandfather through his bedroom window at the adult family home. It brought great joy for his Dad and his children.
The larger assisted living communities have setup “safe zone” areas where family can visit from a comfortable spot outside of the building, see their loved one through a glass door/window, and use a cell phone to communicate. They have created different social activities for the senior residents. Hallway bingo is an example. Each resident sits by the door of their apartment, abiding by the 6-feet apart social distancing, while staff members move through the hallway while calling out the letter-number. Staff members take residents on individualized walks to the courtyard or adjacent park, masks worn and maintaining social distance. Three meals per day are delivered to each resident in their apartment. All hands-on-deck for staff members in the communities to make this possible.
Human contact is undeniable and necessary for our well-being. The need does not go away during a pandemic. Family, friends, neighbors, work partners and co-workers are connecting in new ways. Zoom app is ideal for business meetings and personal contact. It is being used for book clubs, bible study, celebrating Passover and Easter with family, reaching out to keep family, friends and business partners connected. To see and speak with other people will always be the best form of communication.
The lack of Personal Protective Equipment is also challenging. Our state Governors are doing all they can to find these safety tools necessary for healthcare workers, especially in hospitals. For the staff at assisted living communities and adult family homes, many resources are stepping up to help sew masks. My neighbor reached to our circle of neighbors asking if any of us can sew masks for his staff at an assisted living community. I did not have a sewing machine. I reached out to two of my co-workers to see if I could borrow one. I borrowed from one co-worker, and my other co-worker joined me in sewing masks. We found fabric – extra cotton sheets provided by family or fabric remnants from a quilting store – and elastic ordered from Amazon Prime. Another co-worker reached out to her circle of people who sew, in and out of Washington state, and collected 500 masks. Generosity of time and effort.
Seniors are the most vulnerable to the changes in daily living during COVID-19. It is difficulty if not impossible for them to get to the grocery store for food items or necessities. The seniors have lost their social outlet when the senior centers had to close their doors. For some seniors, they depended on meals at the senior centers. The Northshore Senior Center in Bothell created a Pop-Up Pantry for seniors to obtain non-perishable food items or to order ready made meals that can be delivered to them. These food items are provided through donations from the community and monetary donations to keep the Pop-Up Pantry open for seniors. Dispatch Health is running a food drive for the seniors they serve; kindness to seniors who are neighbors and members of our community.
Until we can get back to “normal” – and this experience may give us a new and better normal – this is a time for us to remember our human strength, resilience, and need to connect, love, and care.
Stay home, stay safe and healthy. We will be together again soon!