Maintaining Morale in a Senior Community in the Time of COVID-19
By Valerie Hill • The Palmettos Assisted Living of Charleston
These are truly trying days for everyone in the age of COVID-19. It tends to be a little more stressful for the residents in Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Facilities, or Rehab Facilities. Most of this population have not seen, touched or spoken to their family members in 6 months. That is a very long time and there is no set date when this pandemic will end and they will be able to hug their loved ones. This presents a challenge for all of the caregivers and staff of these Communities. How do you keep up the morale of all of the people who are in your charge? Basically, feed their minds, bodies, spirits and souls to keep them healthy while keeping them entertained so they do not have time to think about what they are missing or get bored, in addition to maintaining social distancing. This can be a very daunting task and people must be treated with kindness and compassion. Since all people are different, creativity and variety are key to keeping up morale.
Help them stay connected with their loved ones. Through the wonderful world of technology, they can chat with their loved ones one the phone, and see them with virtual applications such as FaceTime, Zoom, Duo, and Skype. Better yet, build a visitation booth outside that has plexiglass surrounding it so their loved ones can schedule an appointment to come visit while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
Keep them actively moving. Some ideas are activities such as Seniorcise, Walk Wise Club, Balloon Bop, Balloon Volleyball, Bowling, and Ring Toss, to name a few, so they are sure to continue to get their exercise while maintaining social distancing. Also, Walk Wise Club allows their loved ones to monitor their activity level electronically.
Mind games are good also. Mind games are a great way to exercise the brain and distract the mind from being bored. Examples of this are jigsaw puzzles, bingo, trivia, table games or anything that will exercise and occupy their brain.
Treating them to ice cream or cookies. Make s’mores and root beer floats. Or have cold fruit, and lemonade on the long hot summer days, on the porch while chatting with their next door neighbor are just a few ideas. This is while maintaining social distancing, of course.
After feeding the body and mind possibly feed the spirit with some devotion and fellowship exercises, virtual worship, Bible study.
Since the body, mind, and spirit are fed why not listen to some music to feed the soul. Hire a variety of entertainers to play outdoors, or host a Hawaiian Luau while everyone is practicing social distancing.
Everyone likes to laugh, so host a comedy hour or watch a comedy show or movie on television while eating popcorn. Help them take silly pictures to send to their families.
Celebrate the Day. It seems that every day is a special day. Celebrate Coconut Day, Wildlife Day, Radio Day, Waffle Day, Donut Day, Elephant Day, or Left Handers Day to name a few.
However you decide to maintain morale in these very trying times, please remember to feed the body, mind, spirit, and soul with creativity and variety while staying connected to family and friends. And, of course, maintain social distancing.
Valerie Hill is the Community Relations Director of The Palmettos Assisted Living of Charleston