Valley VNA Life Enrichment Ramps Up in the Time of COVID-19

By Joelin Mueller, Life Enrichment Team Lead at Valley VNA Senior Care

Connecting on FaceTime

As soon as COVID-19 became a reality, I knew that our life enrichment programs like music appreciation, games, art and crafts, and other fellowship activities would have to take a new form. I was even more motivated to make sure our residents lived their best possible lives because they would be indefinitely cut off from in-person visits with the people they love most. First, we shifted many of our programs from once or twice per week to three of four offerings per week. This allowed for proper social distancing, but still gave everyone a chance to get out of their rooms or apartments for some fun and healthy interaction. This plan works especially well for trivia and crafts. We also adjusted some of our programming so residents could participate from their own rooms or apartments. For example, I created an in-room bingo game. Every Tuesday, each person gets five scratch-off bingo cards and a set of selected numbers. They play individually and can win 25 cents per bingo. We go around and pay them their winnings every week, and everyone really seems to enjoy playing this way.

Our team also committed to delivering some of our special programming, like Namaste Care care for residents with severe dementia, on an individual basis in each person’s room. One component of Namaste Care is to play calming nature videos, and the staff on the individual courts have really stepped up to help us start videos and get our equipment in place. The teamwork has been amazing. 

Giant Kerplunk game!

Speaking of teamwork, Jimmy our maintenance man built us two corn hole games and a giant Kerplunk game that we can use outside when we host our lemonade socials. The sunshine is so important for everyone’s mental and physical health, and we are very careful about residents wearing masks and staying at least six feet apart even when we are outdoors. Even our raised bed gardens, many of them adopted by individual residents, are getting watered and cultivated.  This year, we simply have to stagger everyone’s turn to be on the garden patio so they stay far enough apart. And the new ideas haven’t stopped coming. We’ve started a schedule of Neenah bus tours to get out and see the flowers and parks, complete with a stop for ice cream. We keep the number of riders low, but can do up to four rides on a given day, so most people have a chance to sign up.

The most important part of our life enrichment efforts is keeping residents in touch with their loved ones as much as possible. We have a process for scheduling weekly video chats with family and happily accept requests from family members to get added to the schedule. On Monday, Julie Roh, our volunteer coordinator, is our additional video chat helper. Recently, we received a donation of an iPad as well as a donation to buy more!

Garden time.

Valley VNA has also made an investment in people power with temporary help from PRN Home Health & Therapy. We have an extra eight hours of support each week to help us maintain a consistent schedule of one-on-one visits with residents. Many times this includes going for a walk in the fresh air.

I hope you can see how we’ve all come together in some pretty impressive ways to help our residents and colleagues through these almost unbelievable times. I am so proud of our staff teamwork and the creativity and enthusiasm we all have for keeping our residents’ spirits up. We miss our VNA families and can’t wait until we can all be together again. In the meantime, you can count on us to help bring smiles and contentment to your very special people. They are very precious to us, too!