Keeping Elders Connected Despite Coronavirus Isolation
By now, we all comprehend the need for social distancing and safety measures for our most vulnerable citizens. We have seen how hard hit nursing homes and eldercare facilities have been. So, it is understandable that we cannot visit our loved ones in nursing homes while in the midst of this pandemic.
However, knowing that does not make the situation any easier. We miss those essential moments of connection. And, of course, we worry about how our loved ones are doing. Are they getting the attention they need? Is their health stable? How is the situation possibly affecting their care? Are they or their caregivers under strain?
We have written up some tips in our post What to Do if Your Loved One Lives in a Nursing Home During Coronavirus. You can also download our free checklist of questions to ask when you contact the care facility.
An EasyLiving Care Manager’s Creative Solution for Connections During Coronavirus
Today, we’d like to share a story from one family with you. Our care manager, Julie Scott, works with this client, who we will call Mr. B, and his family. Mr. B lives in a skilled nursing facility. He has dementia and is in a special care unit. His adult children live within an hour or so of the facility. Mr. B recognizes his family and enjoys brief phone calls and visiting with them when they are able to come. Julie visits Mr. B regularly and helps his family coordinate his care.
Of course, the facility has shut down to outside visitors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Julie created a plan to help Mr. B’s family connect with him and bring some joy to his day, despite not being able to visit. She worked with the family to create a greetings page for each of them, with their photo and a short note expressing their love. They each used their own words, including terms of endearment for their father and familiar phrases. Then, Julie put these onto colorful paper, making it cheery and easy for Mr. B to read.
Julie visited the nursing home, enlisting the staff’s help to get Mr. B to the window. Julie held the messages up to him as the CNA (certified nursing assistant) talked to him about the messages. The smile on Mr. B’s face (pictured at the top) through the nursing home window says it all. Julie took a video with her phone of the process to share with all the family members.
This obviously brought a lot of joy to Mr. B’s day. And, it was so helpful to his family in the midst of their anxieties for their Dad and the whole situation. It also may just have had a positive impact on the staff who care for Mr. B. It was a bright spot in their day that is often busy with constant tasks and is especially stressful right now. It also reiterates that the work they do means so much to families.
Care Managers Helping Families in New and Different Ways
We live in a changed world. Things feel upside down. Yet, our basic needs of health, safety, love, and connection remain. However, while focusing on the first two, we might feel greater loneliness, anxiety, fear, and sadness. Both our practical needs and our emotional needs are important to our health and well-being.
Our team continues to find creative ways to keep our clients (and ourselves) safe while providing holistic support. Along with the example above, we have been working to set up technology to make it easier for older clients to connect with loved ones and friends remotely. The older population faces an increased digital divide as the world moves online. So, we are helping bridge that divide by assisting in procuring devices, setting things up, showing clients how to use them and connecting them with services like CanDoo for tech support specifically focused on the older generation. Each of our care managers has a Chromebook and iPhone to be able to help clients connect via Facetime and Google Hangouts as well as set up anything they need online.
Staying connected is about the social and emotional, but also necessary for the practical. Medicare loosened its rules on telehealth in response to the coronavirus crisis and many providers are offering more robust telehealth options. We also help set clients up with things like grocery and pharmacy delivery and online banking. Our care managers coordinate this with their families to determine the best ways to manage their needs and handle everything smoothly.
One of the ways our care managers have been reaching out during coronavirus is by filling and delivering goodie bags for clients. They might include some day-to-day items, along with things to make life a little more fun and comfortable during isolating times.
We have created a free Wellness Checklist that families can use to check in on their loved ones. And, our care managers have shared more tips and insights into monitoring your loved ones’ safety from afar.
Contact us for a phone or video consultation to discuss your concerns and resources to help. We are here for you and your family.