The COVID-19 crisis has been a trying time for everyone. From the stress of social distancing to the fear of running out of TP (or worse), staying positive, healthy and unified is no small task. That is why Lutheran Services Carolina (LSC), the umbrella organization for communities like Trinity Landing, has gone out of its way to accommodate both the residents and the staff of its communities—and the result has been heartwarming.
Instead of panic or negativity spreading through the communities, there has been an encouraging sense of camaraderie and optimism. “Our senior living communities are feeling the team spirit as never before,” shared Director of Communications Katie Scarvey. “Morale is high because everyone has the same goal: to protect residents and keep them engaged, and to keep teammates safe as well.”
Serving the residents
And it’s the dedication to this shared goal that has been so apparent. “Our communities have been finding innovative ways for residents to stay connected to their loved ones,” Katie explained, “from communicating through Facebook to orchestrating video chats on computers, smartphones, and iPods for residents, so they can actually see their loved ones while they talk to them.”
Our staff at LSC has gone to great lengths to fight the negative effect of social distancing. This is true on the day-to-day basis, but it is also true for special occasions as well. “Birthday parties have continued,” Katie shared, “with families celebrating on one side of the window and residents on the other.”
Our staff has also done a lot to ensure that the days with LSC are fun and exciting, even with limitations of social distancing. “Activities departments have kicked into high gear to provide distractions for residents,” explained Katie, “whether it’s creating beautiful art together, playing doorway bingo or engaging in Nerf gun battles.”
The services to the residents go beyond the activities and virtual family visits, though. They also include practical needs such as dining and spiritual wellness. Katie shared, “With large dining rooms closed, dining services teammates found innovative ways to provide food to residents, including decorated ‘food trucks.’ Chaplains continued to provide consolation and spiritual sustenance, too.”
Providing for the hard-working staff in above-and-beyond ways
We are so very grateful for our wonderful, hard-working team in this time of need. And as a result, we want to make sure that they have everything they need in this trying time. For starters, we have sought to ensure that the staff have the scheduling flexibility they need and are fairly compensated for their work.
Katie shared, “To support employees who are doing such a heroic job under trying circumstances, LSC is giving monthly bonuses to its full-time and part-time employees who work in senior care facilities. LSC has also temporarily removed its PTO (paid time off) cap so that employees won’t lose time off by working. Our care communities have also been as flexible as possible in scheduling staff, understanding the childcare pressures that now exist for everyone with school-age children.” In fact, LSC has also offered to assist staff members who need help with childcare, helping them to arrange it and giving them financial assistance to do it
These provisions extend to needs such as food as well. “LSC is also giving staff members free meals while they are working, as well as snacks and drinks, and employees are given a simple take-home meal for their families once a week. The facilities also have food pantries for staff members whose families may need extra help during a tough economic time, and those have been generously stocked recently, with families and friends who are grateful for the great work being done by our staff dropping off donations,” Katie said.
Last, but certainly not least, LSC has been doing everything possible to ensure the safety and health of all parties. “In terms of staff and resident safety,” Katie shared, “LSC has been purchasing personal protective equipment, including gowns, masks, gloves, and eye protection from numerous sources. LSC is working daily to identify new resources and to expand its emergency supply. We’ve also been working with suppliers to obtain hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectant and paper products.”
As time has gone on, we have made sure to keep the staff up to date on everything related to COVID-19, from positive cases, to upcoming changes in the communities. Our goal from the beginning has been to be as transparent and supportive as possible. So, to see such a positive response from the residents and the staff has been immensely encouraging. We plan to continue being proactive and team-focused in our approach to senior living, ensuring that everyone can live their best lives while we wait for this storm to pass over us. Thank you to our wonderful residents and amazing staff for reminding us why we do what we do!