We’ve all grown weary of the limitations imposed by COVID-19, but for many people residing in long-term-care facilities—who are among the most vulnerable to the virus—the pandemic-imposed social restrictions have been especially challenging.
Page Rostetter, MED, CTRS, RTCR, Activities Coordinator at The Laurels of Toledo, notes that residents place tremendous value on spending time with family but have been severely limited in their ability to do so due to COVID. “We try to keep them in touch with their loved ones in any way we can, for example by arranging window visits and connecting them visually through apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Google Duo. However, now it’s starting to get chilly outside, making window visits difficult, and virtual visits have their limitations as well. For some of our residents with dementia, using FaceTime can actually create a problem because they hear their family member’s voice and then go looking for them in the facility and get upset when they can’t find them,” she says.
Rostetter further explains that the reduced stimulation and social interaction associated with COVID restrictions is not only extremely boring and tedious for residents of long-term-care facilities, but can also lead to cognitive decline and worsening of dementia.
Recognizing the heavy toll the continued lockdown is taking on residents—and with the holiday season right around the corner—Rostetter and her coworkers asked themselves what they could do to brighten up the facility and help buoy residents’ spirits. They decided to start with a little decorating in partnership with several organizations that had already reached out to The Laurels offering their assistance, including the University of Toledo Recreation Therapy Club, UTCOM Cares, UTCOMLS Geriatrics Club, and UTCOMLS OB/GYN Club.
Using crayons and window clings with autumn themes—such as pumpkins and turkeys—they set about sprucing up The Laurels, starting with the long-term-care side of the facility and later moving on to the rehab side. “Now when the residents look through their windows, they can see something positive that puts them in the holiday spirit and brings smiles to their faces. Also, to ensure residents get to enjoy the decorations, the nursing assistants try to keep the blinds wide open, which lets in a lot of cheerful sunlight,” Rostetter states.
During one of the recent window-decorating sessions, the residents were treated to a visit from one their favorite guests—Rostetter’s fuzzy little Pomeranian, named Sasha. “The residents have been asking me to bring Sasha in, but she’s not allowed into the facility because dogs have the potential to transmit the virus. So, we had her doing window visits with residents,” she says. In addition, at this writing, The Laurels is planning a Halloween trick-or-treat parade with kids coming to show off their costumes outdoors while the residents enjoy the spooky spectacle through the windows.
Also, Rostetter is proud to report that the Snack Shack—the café opened by Laurels residents when their vending machine stocks began to run low and no one could come in to refill them due to COVID—is still going strong and supplying residents with treats and sodas.
“These may all be little things, but when you add them up, they can really help make a difference in residents’ outlook and overall sense of well-being. They need that—in fact, we all need that—now more than ever,” she says.
The Laurels of Toledo accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and all private commercial insurances. A physician’s order is required to obtain outpatient services. For more information, call 419-536-7600 or visit www.laurelsoftoledo.com.