Providing the Providence-style of care our communities and services are known for, but also protecting the health of our residents and staff, is of the highest importance. The creativity and compassion of our staff has never been more evident than during these challenging times.
Beyond extra education on COVID-19, effective hand-washing techniques, and proper use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), our staff have had to adjust their job descriptions as they strive to meet the needs of those they serve. You can also find a message from the management of each of our communities and services on their Facebook pages, and our communities send out daily updates via email to residents and families.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude by how many homemade masks we have received from our family of supporters. Thanks to their generosity, we have been able to provide a mask to each of our staff and residents. We launder these ourselves to ensure they remain effective, and we welcome any further mask donations that come in.
At all of our communities, we have staff assisting residents with video calls to family and friends. This communication helps ease the heartaches that come from missing their visitors. Residents have also been sending messages to family on our Facebook pages. Our organization is blessed to be facing this pandemic during a time when we have advanced technology at our fingertips.
We realize that for our older adults living in their own homes, receiving the help they need is more important than ever, but providing that care safely calls for extra precautions. Each day prior to starting work, our staff completes a self-assessment of their health, and if any signs or symptoms of infection are present, they will not provide patient care. Schedules are adjusted to ensure that clients’ needs are still met by someone else.
In addition, our staff calls the clients the evening before a scheduled visit and asks health-related questions. They ask again during the visit, and they take any needed precautions based on that information. Providence at Home has also sent a communication to their clients and families on general precautions they should consider for their safety, and what we are doing to keep clients safe.
Providence Solutions is still offering care consulting and navigation services over the phone and email. During a time where care management is done remotely, it helps to know a knowledgeable healthcare professional is available to lend expertise to difficult choices.
Our Providence Hospice volunteers have continued to serve from their homes. While they are not making their visits, they are instead making calls to lend support whenever possible. A volunteer is also reaching out to someone needing extra bereavement support.
Skilled Nursing Communities
The Admissions Department at Providence Healthcare & Rehabilitation in Downers Grove has been making calls to every family member, keeping them updated and being transparent with how COVID-19 has affected the community. “They’ve been appreciative of our transparency,” says Suzanne Robinson, Admissions Director at Providence. “They know we started precautions early, and they send their wishes for the safety of our staff.”
Many businesses donated meals for nurses and CNAs during Nurses Appreciation Week. Our communities also recognize healthcare is a team effort, and many have sent food and gifts to area hospitals in appreciation, and our staff have been sewing masks and sending cards of encouragement to our referral sources. Our healthcare teams have also spent time making sure our nurses and CNAs know how much Providence appreciates their commitment; we recognize our frontline providers are the heroes of this global crisis.
Our skilled nursing communities have additional assessment criteria when admitting new patients. We’ve also noticed that people who would normally discharge from a hospital stay to rehab have been going straight home, so we are checking in with them via phone to see if they are doing well; if they aren’t doing well, Medicare allows a 30-day window after a hospital stay where they can enter our rehab communities. In an effort to socially distance as much as possible, most of our paperwork is done digitally.
Since we can’t enjoy communal dining due to social distancing precautions, staff from all areas of our communities are pitching in to deliver meals to rooms. A staff member stays in rooms where we have residents who need assistance eating.
Independent and Assisted Living
Older adults who need assistance with activities of daily living are especially vulnerable to this virus, but our residents in Assisted Living and Memory Care are getting the help they need in a safe environment. Our residents and staff wear masks when in contact with each other, and
Jackie Hall, Life Enrichment Director at Emerald Meadows, has been working with residents on their physical fitness. She exercises and walks with residents, one-on-one, to make sure each person that wants exercise gets it. Over in Illinois, Village Woods has been holding different sports games in the hallway, and you can see the various activities documented on their Facebook page.
One of the best aspects of retirement living is that our residents enjoy their freedom. But when the pandemic hit, and older adults were identified to be at the highest risk, our independent living resident’s lives adjusted to the need for extra precautions.
Beth Cunningham, Park Place of St John Community Manager, says that dining has complete changed. “We went from a self-serve continental breakfast and a sit-down, restaurant style dinner to serving meals in resident apartments.” While this meal-delivery system may not be socially appealing, the residents have all been very appreciative of the great food, convenience, and extra effort. Many staff have assisted to make meal delivery possible, and at Park Place of Elmhurst, the marketing team has contributed to delivery of menus, mail, packages, employee screenings and meals deliveries within all levels of living for the residents. At Saratoga Grove, the nursing staff and managers deliver the food to the residents, which allows them a few extra minutes daily to check in on the residents and spread some cheer.
Royal Atrium Inn Community Manager Jeff Zylstra faced changes to Assisted Living as they met CDC prevention guidelines for all healthcare facilities. “On Saturday, March 14, I made the sad announcement in our Atrium dining rooms that all group activities were cancelled and we would begin serving all meals in each resident rooms,” he says. Soon afterwards, they proactively followed the same protocol at Royal Park Place. “Our conversion was almost immediate and fairly smooth, and the residents have all be very appreciative of the great food, convenience, and extra effort.”
How can we promote social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical health while also following social distance protocols? The Providence Life Enrichment Departments have found creative ways to keep their residents engaged.
Many of our communities are still enjoying some of their favorite activities, such as bingo, Hymn Sing, and trivia contests, from the comfort and safety of their doorway. A staff member stands in the hallway and leads activities using a microphone, and the residents are happily greeting each other from a safe distance, and prizes are still awarded. Up at Emerald Meadows in Grand Rapids, residents enjoy racing remote control trucks down the hall, all while staying in their doorway.
“The activities have become even more personalized and individualized as we go room to room daily,” says Diane Giglio, Life Enrichment Director at Victorian Village Health & Wellness Center. “We’ve learned many of the residents’ favorite songs, and we’ve taken many song requests while enjoying music together.”
One of the most popular times of day at our communities are when the Life Enrichment carts come by. Many communities surprise their residents with bags of goodies, snacks, or fun games. “We go by with an activity or snack cart at least once a week, just to make sure we touch base with every resident,” says Connie Jaros, Victorian Village Life Enrichment Director for Independent and Assisted Living. “We get a chance to see if there’s anything they need.”
We look forward to a time when we can take our masks off, eat together, and smile at one another. But until then, Providence communities and services will continue to adjust their ways of providing services to help keep everyone safe.