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Supporting loved ones in long-term care during the pandemic

November 17, 2020 | Stephanie Whitt, CTRS, CDP

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We understand how difficult it can be to have a loved one in a long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we work hard to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 by following Ohio Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidelines, families may not be able to visit and interact with their loved ones in the same ways they’re used to.

However, your loved one’s caregivers are still committed to helping residents stay connected with their families. Here are some ideas on how to keep in touch and how we’re supporting communication between our residents and their families at The Carriage House and The Norwalk Memorial Home.

Take advantage of the available technology. We are teaching and assisting residents to use video chat applications and will help them read emails or texts on personal devices if needed. Reach out via video, chat, email, text, and phone calls. If you need help coordinating these things, we are happy to assist any way we can.

Send cards and letters. Share messages of support and updates on family members to your loved ones. We will make sure residents have the necessary supplies like paper, pens, envelopes, and postage so they can reply. If needed, we can also write dictated replies.

Send recorded video messages via email or text message. If your schedule or other challenges make it difficult to arrange a live video chat, you can record a message and send it to your loved one via email or text message. We will share the messages with them and help them record replies.

Window and outdoor visitation and “parades.” We can work with families to schedule window visits, outdoor visitation, and car parades when weather permits. We will make every effort to ensure residents can safely participate as long as these activities are scheduled in advance.

Visuals to show you care. We will help you find space outside for ribbons, flowers, posters, and banners that your loved one can see.

Assemble care packages. Include pictures, cards, drawings, snacks, and entertainment items your loved one would enjoy (such as books, magazines, and puzzles). Care packages for Norwalk Memorial Home residents can be dropped off at the Fisher-Titus Patient Pavilion entrance and Carriage House residents’ packages can be dropped off at the front door.

Dedications on the in-house intercom system. We can dedicate songs or share messages through the intercom before broadcasting a movie or playing music. If your loved one has a favorite song, poem, movie, or television show, please let us know.

Send flowers from the Fisher-Titus Gift Shop. Petal Pushers by Mandy stocks the gift shop daily with beautiful fresh flower arrangements. To order an arrangement for delivery to a Norwalk Memorial Home or Carriage House resident, call the gift shop at 419-660-2800.

These are just a few ideas. We encourage families to get creative in finding ways to connect with their loved ones safely during the pandemic. If you think of any additional ideas or creative ways we can work together to support our residents, please let us know by contacting Stephanie Whitt at 419-668-4228 or John Tucker at 419-668-5162.

About Stephanie

Stephanie Whitt, CTRS, CDP is the Senior Care Services Manager at Fisher-Titus. She has been with Fisher-Titus since 2008. For more information about Senior Services at Fisher-Titus, visit fishertitus.org/senior-health-services for more information.