By: Sydney Mejia
For a few weeks now, people across the country have had to social distance themselves from others. More extreme measures have had to be taken in order to protect the residents at long term care facilities. (Due to privacy of residents, the facility featured in this story preferred not to be named.)
“Currently, in our facility there are no visitors, no communal dining or activities,” Administrator Deanna Novak said. “All healthcare employees are screened daily prior to entering for their shift, which would include taking their temperature and screening them for signs and symptoms,” she said.
Normal cleaning procedures were also taken up another level to keep the invisible enemy away from their facility.
“Everything that is touched has to be deep cleaned now instead of just the standard cleaning,” Environmental Service Director, Ken Lampman said. “We use teamwork and other departments are also assisting in cleaning high touch areas,” he said.
“We have also increased our cleaning processes to include leadership members taking extra precautions in partnership with our housekeeping teams along with the other departments,” Novak said.
As a part of everyday changes, both the employees and the residents are having to quickly adapt for the unexpected situation.
“Our employees are educated on a daily basis to keep up with the constant changes,” Novak said. “Staff and residents are continuously educated on hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and social distancing,” she said.
Though all of these precautions are taken, one of the biggest changes they see is how the residents are responding to the situation. It is extremely important that they keep them in a positive mindset while being cooped up in their rooms.
“I try to make myself more present, visible, and offer a listening ear to the residents,” Director of Social Services, Jena Choate said. “I delegate tasks to other departments to assist in these tasks,” she said.
A normal day that might have included bingo for the residents is no longer the same. Employees are having to work around the social distancing guidelines while keeping them occupied with different activities.
“We are providing in-room activities and 1 to 1 staff social visits with residents,” Activities Director Tabitha Morris said. “We provide leisure activities like spiritual services, seated exercise and stretching, and education and cognitive activities with the visits,” she said.
The residents and employees are constantly being affected by this every day and it isn’t an easy task to follow.
“Being involved in the pandemic to lead the guidance, changes, and take care of staff and residents is most certainly titled as the most challenging time within my health care career,” Novak said.
“I now have more responsibilities like cleaning handrails, attending more meetings, and doing visits with residents,” Business Office Manager Tara Wasikowski said. “Working in health care right now is scary, not just for the worker but for their family members at home,” she said.