In this Difficult Time, Celebrate Seniors, Skilled Nursing Staff

CANFIELD, Ohio — It seems like every cause has its own day or special week. There’s National Pet Week, Bike to Work Week, and National Wildflower Week to name a few of the hundreds of anointed weeks. 

Not to discount Fido, Schwinn, or any nature lovers out there, but these all are seemingly less important than a particular week that happens every year at the beginning of May –  National Skilled Nursing Care Week.

Formerly known as National Nursing Home Week, National Skilled Nursing Care Week was established by the American Health Care Association in 1967. This year the designated week, May 10–16, celebrates the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for some of America’s most vulnerable:  the frail, elderly and disabled.

But this year, the official celebrations will be limited. 

Activities and events planned to recognize the residents and the men and women who care for them will not be like years past, all in an effort to dissuade an unwanted and most sinister visitor, an invisible enemy.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is the unwanted guest who crashed the party. That is abundantly clear. The virus has changed how we interact with friends, family, co-workers, medical personnel – the list goes on. Nevertheless, knowing that changes have been made to protect our most vulnerable should provide some comfort. 

Nursing homes, in an effort to protect our residents, are following the government’s strict recommendations in limiting outside visitors except for essential staff members. It’s a difficult situation for residents who might not fully understand what’s going on. 

It’s difficult for family members who feel helpless in not being able to visit their loved ones. And it’s difficult for the nursing home staff who are witness to the separation.

Our nursing home care workers, from the skilled nurses and aides to the janitorial staffs, must be applauded for the diligent care provided at this specific juncture  –  and always. 

Residents, and vicariously through their families, need a sense of normality. So how can National Skilled Nursing Care Week be celebrated with the restrictions in place? What can be done?

While not the same tactile, annual experience, patients and those who care for them at skilled nursing facilities can still feel the love. A few ideas:

Schools are closed and activities have been put on hold, leaving children with many extra hours for creative endeavors. Get their creative juices flowing by painting a happy landscape, coloring a worksheet, or drawing a family picture. While brightening the days of loved ones and workers, this can be a useful family exercise as well. 

Children are likely wondering why they can’t visit that special someone and this can be stressful to them. Studies have shown that art acts as a therapy to provide an outlet for such stress. Art provides a bit of escapism for the artist and the recipient.

Amid the chaos, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a great opportunity for everyone to  press the pause button and reflect on what truly matters in life. 

Middle school and high school students can write letters of thanks to the skilled care workers who are increasingly at risk in the roles that they play. 

Additionally, many residents aren’t computer savvy and would welcome a penned letter from someone who cares –  old-fashioned snail mail harkening back to simpler times. 

For those who are adept with technology, residents, with the help of staff members, can FaceTime their loved ones to celebrate in their absence. 

Children can make special signs for the virtual party, which can then be saved and given in person once a new normal is discovered.

The safety and best interests of residents and staff members are the ultimate concern. 

While this year’s National Skilled Nursing Care Week will not be like any other; it will have deeper meaning for all involved.

Be sure to reach out to both employees and residents and thank them for their presence in your life – during National Skilled Nursing Care Week and every single day. 

Windsor House Inc. is a family owned and operated health care provider that has been serving the Mahoning Valley for over 60 years. The company owns and operates 12 nursing homes and five assisted living communities in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit WindsorHouseInc.com, or follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The Scoop on Senior Living is sponsored content by Windsor House.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.