Study shows that 64% of residents are not leaving their rooms
LTC experts share their best tips for safe, healthy socialization
A special report from researchers at Altarum highlights the grim reality of pandemic life for nursing home residents across America.
Survey results indicate that nearly two-thirds of all residents remain secluded in their rooms. In other words, it has been seven long months since they have dined as a community, chatted with neighbors, or ventured outside to breathe fresh air or socialize with visitors.
COVID-19 restrictions are mostly to blame.
But in recent weeks, we have seen a strong push for facilities to resume visitation and incorporate other opportunities for social interaction—so long as social distancing measures can be observed. Operators have been strategizing endlessly, looking for safe ways to improve the lives of their residents amidst the threat of coronavirus, all the while knowing they are among our nation’s most vulnerable.
For more insights, visit Altarum
Introducing ‘distance socializing’
By publishing this research, Altarum hopes to “help make the case that even if COVID-19 continues to impact life in the U.S. for some time to come (as many healthcare experts believe is likely) that the concepts of ‘distance socializing’ will be widely adopted.”
This new idea is based on the premise that there are effective ways to re-integrate residents into the larger life of their communities. With the support and help of staff, friends, family, and community volunteers, we can reduce feelings of loneliness and better foster the mental health of those under our watch. Check out these tips from today’s top long-term care experts.
Creative Tips for Resident Socialization During COVID
- Increase phone calls and video chat
Residents should be encouraged to reach out to loved ones. Smartphones and tablets with video conferencing capability add another layer of interaction.
- Boost your recreational staff
Even when money is tight, the addition of just one more employee could make all the difference. With enough staff, savvy operators are organizing safely-spaced activities such as doorway bingo and charades.
- Enlist help from your community
Contact local schools or organizations to jumpstart a pen pal program. Volunteers can send letters, cards, photos of pets, and other fun greetings. This also serves as free facility promotion.
- Work with psychologists
If you have a professional who routinely speaks with residents, this is the perfect time to call them in. Having an extended conversation, even behind masks, can help increase the feeling of connectedness. Nursing staff can also lend an ear.
- Consider compassionate care
If a resident’s health has declined as a result of isolation, or their depression has worsened, a compassionate care visit may be in order. Now that visitation guidelines have eased, this is definitely doable.
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