Keeping Residents Engaged During COVID-19Monday, September 28, 2020
Helping Our Seniors Experiencing Social Isolation
Finding Opportunities for Socialization and Connection
By now, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have all heard the term “social distancing” many times. Fortunately, for most of us, the act of social distancing does not have to equate social isolation. We are safely able to visit outside—at a distance—with friends and family, enjoy nature, and easily utilize tools like FaceTime and Zoom.
This may not be the case for residents in our senior care facilities. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, many of the opportunities for social engagement have been canceled or significantly changed. For example, residents cannot participate in many group activities or join with other residents at mealtimes. Visits from family members look different and may not be as frequent due to the limitations. How can we keep these residents engaged enough to be sure that social distancing does not become social isolation?
Senior care staff must have patience and a willingness to serve as a partner to families and residents.
Senior care staff members are the bridge between residents and their families. We understand that “technical support” may not be included in your job description, but families may lean on you to help residents utilize technology that helps them stay connected.
For example, you may be able to help a technology-weary resident participate in a family Zoom call they otherwise would have missed. Consider creating a guide for residents on using video chat technology so that they have a simple and easy-to-use resource at their fingertips.
While socialization is so important, so is mental stimulation.
Enthusiastically encourage residents to participate in activities that keep them entertained and engaged, such as word searches, puzzles, or even group games like trivia or Bingo that can be enjoyed with other residents while social distancing.
Look for unique opportunities to utilize remote resources.
Perhaps it is possible to engage residents in an online fitness or wellness program. This not only keeps residents physically active but it gives them a sense of community, even if it is through a computer or television screen.
What is your senior living community doing to keep residents engaged? We’d love to hear your own ideas. It is so important that all of us continue to find new and unique ways to care for our residents’ mental and emotional health during this time.