What can your residents do if they can’t have dinner with their friends? The fact is that dinnertime is sure to differ for residents in these extraordinary times. For a period of time, residents may even be forced to eat alone in their rooms for safety sake. So what do you do as a community to maintain a sense of normalcy along with some semblance of the vibrant lifestyle you once espoused so earnestly?
Staggering dining times throughout the day may be a welcome social distancing solution. It would allow for spacing of residents according to CDC safety guidelines while, at the same time, lessening feelings of isolation. However, it may be more feasible to offer limited dining room attendance options, whereas a resident may be able to enjoy meals in the dining room two or three days per week instead of every day, which is no longer an option.
If dining within the dining room remains impossibility at this juncture, you can still make the dining experience a more pleasant one. Start by diminishing feelings of isolation by having a member of your culinary staff reach out to each resident daily to chat and provide delightful menu options; deliver meal service with courtesy, kindness and a buoyancy that will brighten their day; and follow up to ensure that everything was to their liking and to gain insight for adding even more enjoyment to future meals and meal service.
Now let’s talk socializing and an active lifestyle. Will most of your existing events be canceled? Will off-campus outings cease to exist? Will many of your social activities become obsolete? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, at least for the time being, but that doesn’t mean that your vibrant lifestyle has come to an end. Here’s where you need to get creative.
Until a proven vaccine is available, residents can still socialize and remain active, albeit slightly differently. We simply need to find new ways to connect. For example, card games are all but impossible, but if you’re looking for the perfect pastime, bingo is more than suitable for social distancing. You can employ an IT specialist to initiate virtual visits with loved ones and transport residents to a bygone era on movie nights with some Errol Flynn swashbuckling or swooning for Bogie. How about happy hour with social distancing in the courtyard? Now that sounds like fun.
Exercise can easily become a mainstay as well. Maybe you can’t hold exercise classes at the same capacity, but you could add more to accommodate smaller class sizes. In fact, you could do that with many of your existing activities. Then there is walking the gorgeous grounds, which is still in high fashion. Shuffleboard can be played if attendants sanitize equipment after each player change. Plus, there is no evidence that pools can transmit the virus according to the CDC, so water aerobics and swimming laps can still be fully enjoyed with social distancing as long as there is frequent disinfection of commonly touched areas like ladder handles.
It’s time to write your own positive narrative. Change is always a given. Don’t simply cope with change. Use it as a springboard into an exciting world of new opportunities.