By Haley Burress United States
It’s a strange time in history right now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those of us who work with the elderly - the most vulnerable to serious complications from the virus - it can feel overwhelming, unsettling, and worrisome.
However, our roles as Activity Professionals have never been more important. To encourage and inspire you, here are some ideas for your calendar, residents, and community. We will get through this as we always have - together.
You’re certainly inundated with news coverage and you’ve probably been a part of your community’s infection control meetings about COVID-19. However, it is important that you have the reliable information you need in order to understand how to do your job best. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about COVID-19:
It can feel scary and you can feel overwhelmed with information that literally changes by the day (sometimes by the hour). It’s okay to feel like this. You should also remember your residents are likely feeling the same way.
Depending on where you are in the world, your community may have:
Visitor and group activity restrictions can significantly reduce your ability to schedule entertainment, utilize volunteers, and meet the needs of your residents. However, your role during this time is clear: to assure residents are calm and engaged. Here’s how to make it happen with the very limited resources you may have right now.
Now is the time to use technology more than ever. (It’s also the time to get your Administrator to sign off on purchasing technology for your department) Here are a few ideas for how to use technology to reach residents in their rooms and in small groups:
While some of these interventions will obviously work best with higher functioning residents, it is still a great start.
Drop-in visits are crucial right now as most of your residents are likely in their rooms the majority of the day. Different than 1:1 visits, these drop-ins are a time to visually check on each resident and see what they need. Try dropping in on your residents twice per day, and try to multi-task by also pushing a themed cart so that you can drop off independent leisure materials. Cart themes can include:
Your drop-in visit will allow a time-effective way to get face time with each resident so that you can check on their needs and their mood. Then, you can follow up appropriately.
While your volunteers cannot come into your community right now, you can still use them to serve residents. Here are a few tasks they could help you with:
Your CNA staff is stressed out right now too, but you need them now more than ever. Be sure you are taking time to educate them on activities they can participate in with residents during personal care. Try having an “Activity of the Day” that caregivers can do with residents; educate them on the activity during shift change and via signs in the workroom or nursing station. Keep it easy. Here are some ideas:
Word searches and crosswords are a good start for residents but are simply not sustainable for too long. We are all still learning and creating new programs to use in our new reality. Let’s share in the comments what is working - and what isn’t - in your community so we can learn together.
I’m cheering you on and I’m confident you are doing your very best for those you serve. You’ve got this.