PointClickCare customer Eden Senior Care is next up in our series on organizations leading the way in their response to the novel coronavirus. With 16 locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Eden provides skilled nursing and assisted living services. The company wasted no time in developing an innovative response when residents or staff in four of its facilities unfortunately became infected with COVID-19.
Tracie Lautenschlager, corporate EHR clinical nurse at Eden Senior Care, says staff “battened down the hatches” and determined how to protect the other residents and staff in those buildings.
“Besides confining residents to their rooms and apartments, we created some COVID-only units in several of our locations. We were no longer using two secured units for dementia care, so they were a perfect place to treat the virus. Also, one of our larger facilities was able to host a COVID unit, so we temporarily transferred a resident there to heal.”
Gratitude for the Virtual World
Tracie says that virtual communications and events have been invaluable in helping residents feel connected and engaged.
“We contracted with a volunteer organization whose members reach out to our residents and chat with them about sports, music, or whatever interests them. It’s wonderful to see total strangers brought together by a pandemic. We’ve also had a lot of virtual parties, virtual bingo and virtual parades…from vintage cars to high school prom floats. Some local groups have contacted us about these drive-bys, and we’ve approached others.”
Kudos to Creative Staff
Tracie praises the employees responsible for activities and social services in Eden’s facilities, saying they’ve “stepped up” to the challenge of keeping the residents busy and entertained.
“Among many other things, staff have started decorating our ice cream carts with different themes. Normally, they do these things only during Nursing Home Week and for specific holidays. But now it’s almost a constant party, which is awesome for our residents.”
There are also movies that everyone watches simultaneously on an internal TV channel. The families have gotten in on the fun too, creating and placing designs on the windows and participating in the parades. There’s even a local dad who practices baseball with his two kids on the front lawn of one facility, to the delight of resident baseball fans watching from their rooms. Tracie is surprised by how many residents actually seem to prefer the “new normal.”
“We have quite a few introverts who don’t normally like to do things in large groups. So to be able to play bingo from the doorway of their room, or a watch the same movie as everyone else but from their chair or bed, is a real treat for them.”
Eden Senior Care hasn’t forgotten its staff, who’ve been working “day in and day out” under unprecedented circumstances. Tracie explains that corporate operations dedicated a fund to each of Eden’s locations – called “COVID Cash” – to use as they wished for staff. Some buildings received gas cards, knick-knacks and trinkets. Everyone received a T-shirt saying, “Care Not COVID. Not All Heroes Wear Capes.”
To boost morale before masks were required at all times, one facility had a mask contest, with ingenious staff members covering their faces with everything from a lettuce leaf to a milk jug! Families have been generous too, treating the staff to pizza parties and other meals or treats. Tracie hopes these kinds of events will continue post-pandemic.
“I’m rooting for some of these things to become permanent. They will help our staff remember that we can have fun and work at the same time.”
As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues, Tracie advises other LTC and assisted living staffs to “keep their chin up” and focus on identifying and implementing those things the residents love to do. She also warns employees to practice self-care.
“Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes out for yourself. Burnout is a major factor in our profession, and even more so when you’re wearing a mask and goggles or a face shield for your entire shift. So take some ‘me’ time and do something you enjoy, whether it’s soaking in the tub or sipping a glass of wine.”
PointClickCare applauds Tracie and everyone at Eden Senior Care for coming together for their residents and each other in so many unique ways!