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Phoebe Residents find Creative Ways to Stay Healthy and Connected

Published on March 27, 2020


Phoebe Ministries’ four continuing care campuses are going the extra mile to make sure all residents throughout the continuum of care can stay active and in contact with their family, friends, neighbors, pastors, and even grocery stores, while adhering to the guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for keeping healthy and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

With all the CDC precautions in place, activities at the communities are limited, so Phoebe staff got creative to safely allow residents to stay healthy, happy, and connected through social interaction. Whether living independently or reliant on health care staff for all daily living tasks, social and emotional connection is a key component to the health and wellness of seniors living in all settings, including in continuing care retirement communities. Because COVID-19 poses increased risk to older adults, Phoebe staff is utilizing technology and other measures to minimize the impact of social distancing on residents’ daily lives. In addition, over 70% of Phoebe residents living in skilled nursing and personal care have some level of cognitive impairment and memory loss. Connecting with their Phoebe caregivers, interacting with family and friends contributes greatly to their positive quality of life, enriching and maintaining their overall health and wellness.

Here are some creative ways Phoebe is making sure residents living at our four continuing care campuses are staying engaged:

At Phoebe Allentown:

  • ZOOM Calls – Family and friends can schedule ZOOM video calls through Phoebe’s new program “Connecting Hearts”. They now virtually connect residents with their loved ones face-to-face. With the help of Phoebe staff, residents are discovering a new way of connecting and the initial reactions have been uplifting and inspiring for all during these times of stress and uncertainty. “He instantly perked up when he saw his daughter, granddaughter and their pet dog on the computer screen,” said the Rev. Albert Martin, chaplain at Phoebe Allentown, after assisting a resident with a video call. “He just kept saying- ‘I love you, I love you’- it was a really nice thing to see.” Click here to schedule your own Zoom call!
    Staff continue to share touching stories recalling a resident hugging the iPad after the call, and some being moved to tears when they see their loved ones’ faces. Phoebe staff was also thrilled to be able to connect a resident at Phoebe Allentown with family who lives in Puerto Rico.  “Connecting Hearts” is being rolled out across all Phoebe campuses by next week ensuring virtual connections while adhering to appropriate health care privacy regulations.
  • Telecasted Activities -Live TV accessibility enables residents to tune-in to telecast programming from their rooms. Name-that-tune, spring trivia, and remote bingo are among the favorites. Community Life staff host the activity while residents call in with the answers on their phones. “The fun for residents is making the call with the answer, then hearing thenselves live on TV throughout the whole health care center,” says Joan Wickel community life lead at Phoebe Allentown and telecast emcee. “It’s not ideal but it helps folks stay connected and feel like their part of a community, even if it’s through the TV.”

At Phoebe Berks:

  • Community Engagement Platform- The large 300-plus independent community of residents use their smart devices to tap into Phoebe’ s community engagement platform called Touchtown. The app provides residents with real time updates, access to activity calendars and the ability to view live programming.
  • Personal Shopping- As grocery stores experience overloaded online orders, Phoebe staff are gathering grocery lists from the independent living residents so they can go out and pick up their orders for them, and deliver the groceries to their door. “We delivered over 100 bags of groceries on Tuesday. This has been a huge, labor intensive task but we are doing it to keep people safe,” says Star High, executive director of Phoebe Berks.

At Phoebe Richland:

  • Photo Greetings-The community life staff is hard at work making sure families can see the happy faces of their loved ones. “We took photos of every resident who wanted to send their messages of cheer out to their families,” says Annmarie Petitto-Thomas, community life lead for Phoebe Richland. For those who want to visually check in but don’t have a smartphone, the Phoebe staff is busy sharing photos and videos of residents smiling and greeting their families on the Phoebe community Facebook pages.
  • Intergenerational Connections-Staff are working to enrich their pen pal partnership with a local K-8 school. Cards and letters are coming in as teachers and Phoebe staff work to initiate video technology so students and residents can share their experiences during this unprecedented time. Residents are excited to re-connect with some of their younger friends.

At Phoebe Wyncote:

  • Recorded Videos-Staff are creating short videos of residents using a newly donated iPad and are sending them directly to their families. Families are sending recorded videos back that residents can watch as often as they want.
  • Doorway Visits- On temperate days, the front doors are opened up as families stand outside on the entranceway porch while their loved one sits inside the lobby smiling and waving. Seeing each other is calming and relieving. “It’s a lot of work for the staff but we’re happy to do it!” says Judith Sherman, executive director of Phoebe Wyncote.

On all campuses, staff are delivering “Messages of Cheer” sent from the Phoebe website to residents, and streaming live fitness classes and spiritual worship services daily on resident televisions.

Phoebe Ministries’ residents and their loved ones aren’t the only ones who are benefiting from connecting residents with their friends and families. “After helping a resident with a video call he became tearful and said “thank you for this,” said Jane Infante, social worker at Phoebe Allentown. “It brought tears to my eyes also. What a wonderful service for our residents and families!”

Phoebe Ministries will continue to help residents stay active and connected as much as possible during these trying times, fulfilling our promise to lead the way through innovative services that promote fullness of life.

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