How to Keep Seniors Engaged During Strict COVID Protocols
The pandemic has been life-altering for many adults. It has disrupted or canceled plans, brought on city-wide shutdowns, and put new rules and procedures in place for daily activities. This abrupt change can be difficult for residents in long-term care (LTC) communities to handle. During COVID, senior isolation has become even more pronounced, making it easy to neglect physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
As LTC communities navigate COVID regulations and procedures, there are ways to modify daily activities and special events to keep residents engaged. Protecting residents from any health concern should not exclude proper emotional, social, or spiritual healthcare. Benjamin Surmi, Social Gerontologist and Director of Culture and Education at Koelsch Senior Communities, asks senior community leaders to consider reframing their thought process when it comes to community engagement during COVID. Instead of asking, “Is this activity permitted?” ask, “How can we safely execute this activity?”
Develop a Safe Engagement Toolbox
A safe engagement toolbox allows senior communities to continue regularly scheduled activities with residents throughout various levels of COVID safety regulations. With innovative new programs and careful planning, residents can stay connected with friends and caretakers in their rooms, hallways, and different group settings. Take a look at these enriching activities you can plan for your residents while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.
When and if it is necessary for residents to stay in their own living environment, it is essential to continue providing social, emotional, and spiritual outlets. Collaborative activities are key if residents have limited access to friends and family. This type of activity offers a sense of togetherness even when being physically together is not possible. Some collaborative activity ideas include:
- Art projects: Each resident colors a picture or piece of paper, and then it is constructed into one art piece for display. Painting rocks for the community garden to welcome new guests.
- Creative writing: Each resident writes a sentence about a given topic to create a poem. The same can be applied to create a short story.
There are many simple activities that can be executed with or without technology that provides different social, emotional, and physical benefits. Some examples include:
- Magazine scavenger hunt
- Bird bingo
- Joke contest
- Phone tree around the community
- Live streaming classes
- Sewing blankets for homeless shelters
As protocols loosen and it is safe to host activities in hallways with masks and social distancing, there are many creative ways to bring joy to residents. One idea consists of resident-lead stations where residents place special or unique belongings on a table for other residents to admire. Not only are residents able to stretch their legs as they walk, but they get to see familiar faces and learn more about their neighbors. Other possible hallway activities include:
- Themed carts with different drinks and treats
- Birthday celebrations from doorways
- Chair yoga from resident doorways
- Placing resident baby photos throughout the halls and having a guessing contest
- Hallway scavenger hunt
Small and Large Group Activities
Consider how you can adjust regular activities or events to accommodate group gatherings. For example, suppose your community is planning a fair. In that case, it can occur outdoors, across different rooms in your facility, or residents can be assigned a time to attend an event. There are always ways to modify events to keep residents safe and active in the community.
For more information on the social and physical benefits of meaningful interactions and to learn more about creative programming during various COVID regulations, watch the Safe Engagement Toolbox webinar here.