Staff working with residents and families to maintain creative communication
Residents, along with activities staff, at United Methodist Homes Campuses are making the best of their new situation. With social distancing requirements, they have been getting creative and resorting to technology in order to stay connected and visit virtually with family and friends.
According to Kathy Micha, Activities Director at Elizabeth Church Manor in Binghamton, “We are trying to keep everything as normal as possible. Our staff has been really creative in not only modifying our activities to comply with the new restrictions but to also meet the needs of all our residents, in all skill levels. We are also working hard to make sure that every resident is able to keep in contact with their family”. One unique idea includes playing games like Bingo and Pokeno with residents in their doorways down the halls so they are kept further apart but can still see and hear the games and their friends. The staff has also been handing out fun worksheets, helping residents call families, and making creative social media posts to share.
At Hilltop Campus in Johnson City, staff are also going above and beyond to keep spirits high. Activities staff has assisted with family video chats and calls. Independent Living residents have been ordering their groceries online with UMH staff picking up and delivering to their door. Many activities and services are being offered individually in resident rooms such as hair and nails, exercises, virtual reality experiences, and chaplaincy services. Some staff has even dressed up as clowns to bring cheer while Executive Director, Ron Patti, brought in his guitar to play for residents. With nicer weather in the forecast, individual walks will also be offered. Some families have ordered pizza delivery for their loved ones. Campus Life Director, Faye Clark, says that “morale is still high. Residents and families have been very appreciative, knowing the staff is working to keep them healthy. We’ve assigned staff liaisons so family members have a point person for easy communication. I have it on good authority that the Easter bunny is still planning to visit, too.” In addition, the campus’s Positive Thinking Groups are sharing happy thoughts and activities to keep people smiling.
Rachel Loefflad, Activities Director overseeing programs for Myers Manor and Anderson Personal Care in Wesley Village, says “Our staff is making heroic efforts to keep the schedule as normal as possible. I’ve told our residents that when the going gets tough, the tough keep singing – so we are! They’re all keeping a good perspective on the whole situation.” New activities include taking advantage of the many live streaming museum and zoo tours, and other cultural opportunities to share with residents. Activities such as music and wellness classes, bible study, and streaming Catholic masses have continued with smaller group ratios multiple times a day, allowing residents to still safely see their friends. The staff has been assisting residents call and video chat with family. One resident took the opportunity to virtually share his ukulele skills with a family member.
Two residents from Independent Living have created a special Netflix playlist for the next two weeks. Residents can view the daily movie in small group settings by creatively using spaces throughout the facility, followed by group discussion.
Tami Chesniak, Activities Director in Partridge Tippet Nursing Facility, says that “families and residents know this is necessary and appreciate what we’re doing. We’re being proactive in scheduling phone calls and video chats. Some families are even setting up group calls so they can all talk together.” Chesniak shared that residents were surprised by a special St. Patrick’s Day cupcake delivery; one to each room. Activities staff are going above and beyond to deliver extra puzzles, worksheets, books and magazines to resident rooms and reading with them. Families are dropping off care packages with the items they usually deliver in person. “Whatever the residents want, we’re making it happen as long as it’s within the guidelines,” said Chesniak.
In the words of one appreciative family member, “This is to thank the kind staff there, in caring for my Mom. This coronavirus has had to put all kinds of stress on your staff yet they take kind and patient effort to keep us in touch with our loved ones. As I live in North Carolina, this help is needed on a regular basis. Thanks so much and prayers and blessings for the loving service and the special mission you all provide. Wonderful gifts that many need!”
Individuals can also reach out to brighten the day of residents. Anyone wishing to send a virtual greeting or artwork is encouraged to email your scanned images, photos, and messages to the Activities Department at:
Faye Clark, Campus Life Director, Hilltop Campus
(607) 798-7818 x205
Kathy Micha, Activities Director, Elizabeth Church Campus
(607) 722-3463 x347
Rachel Loefflad, Activities Director (Myers/Anderson – Wesley Village)
(570) 655-2891 x5245
Tami Chesniak, Activities Director (Partridge Tippet Nursing Facility – Wesley Village)
(570) 655-2891 x5214
Terry White, Activities Director, Tunkhannock Manor
You can also follow resident activities on United Methodist Homes’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.