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Creating Excitement and Memories in Challenging Times

Creating Excitement and Memories in Challenging Times

As the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across North America it’s becoming more of a priority to protect our vulnerable residents that live in elder care homes.

Most homes have implemented strict no visitor, lockdown policies to keep residents safe and healthy.

Part of this new normal is the implementation of social distancing measures which includes residents to stay in their rooms, no group activities, and no community dining. This can leave your residents feeling isolated and lonely.

This has also put a tremendous amount of responsibility on the recreation staff in elder care homes around the world. We wanted to take a moment today and recognize the tremendous efforts your teams are making to help keep your residents healthy, and in good spirits during these difficult times.

Here are a few examples of the kind of creativity and compassion recreation teams have been demonstrating:

Doorway Dining
In areas where meals need to be provided to residents in their rooms, we have seen several homes set them up in their doorways so they can still feel like they are eating with their friends. Short on tables? Many homes have had generous donations from families and communities of trays and small tables that can be set up in doorways for residents. You’ll be surprised how eager people are to help, we just need to ask for what we need!

FaceTime with Families
Many homes have started organizing live video messaging between residents and their families, including Shalagh’s team at Columbia Forest. They have been busy coordinating a call schedule with families, and facilitating a regular stream of calls with residents. A few of Shalagh’s tips include:

  • Staff may need to help hold a tablet during calls.
  • For some residents a video call is a new experience, so encourage them to interact with the camera as if the person is there with you. Or, make sure the residents don’t tap on the hang up button by accident!
  • Incorporate other events into the call, such as “Funny Hat Day”, which will be sure to give family members a chuckle.
  • Call families on your way to a resident’s room. This helps get everyone ready, and you can jump right into a conversation with residents.
  • This form of connecting is crucial for families to stay in touch with their loved ones during this crisis, and keeps residents safe.

Hallway Bingo and Trivia
This is a great way to maintain the connection and fun of a group activity. Homes like Arbutus Park Retirement Community in Richland have been doing this and many other programs to keep their residents engaged.  *Make sure to disinfect community touch items such as bingo chips, dabbers, etc.*

Become a Photographer
Darla at Columbia Garden Village has been taking lots of photos of residents with a company camera, uploading them to her computer, then emailing them to the friends and families of her residents. It has been a great success because loved ones are able to see their family members are well, healthy, and enjoying themselves. Before sending any photos, make sure you only include the faces of residents related to the families you’re sending them to. You may need to crop images to preserve your residents’ privacy.

Send Letters and Postcards
Alexis at Beacon Hill Lodge told us, “Residents were really missing their loved ones so I have taken the time to have one on one visits with my residents to help them to make phone calls, and also write a card/letter to their loved one and send it off through the mail. It did give the residents some peace of mind knowing that in some way they can contact their families and loved ones even if it was just a quick message by mail.” Lettermail and postcards are so rarely used these days, yet they were an integral part of life for most residents. Facilitating letter writing, and encouraging families to write back is a fantastic way to create pleasant surprises throughout the week when residents receive replies from loved ones.

Outside Strolls
Your residents could use some fresh air as well. When appropriate, you can porter residents out for a little stroll, one at a time.

Hallway Sing-Alongs
While you have your residents in their doorways, why not coordinate a good old-fashioned sing-along? Now is as good of a time as ever for Music Therapy! Print out some lyric sheets from the internet, play the song on a portable speaker, and coordinate everyone to sing-along.

In Room Arts & Crafts
Similar to the bingo and trivia, make sure community touch items are thoroughly sanitized. You can drop off colouring, painting, or even print off colour by number sheets from the internet to distribute to your residents.

Independent Activities
The teams at Limestone Manor and Limestone Lodge Assisted Living and Memory Care have made many adjustments to their recreation programming. They’ve created individual activity kits, including word search, crossword and other puzzles higher functioning residents can enjoy. Books and magazines are also sure to be appreciated as well as colouring, and painting activity supplies.

Window Visits
As many of you have seen in the news, we are seeing families dropping by to visit with their loved ones through windows in many homes. If this is possible at your home, it’s a wonderful way for families and residents to feel connected – and it is so unusual, it is sure to be remembered!.

Doorway Exercises
Spending all day in their rooms, your resident’s can still get some much needed movement into their days with doorway exercise activities. Whether it’s chair based movements, or stretching and bending, put on some music to liven up the mood while everyone moves together!

During these difficult times the most important thing we can do for ourselves, our residents, families, and co-workers is to maintain a positive outlook. Thank you for being such a key part of ensuring residents maintain a fulfilling and meaningful life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your efforts are appreciated.