Caring For Our Seniors... Even More

Caring For Our Seniors... Even More

Long-term care facilities and senior communities have been hit especially hard by Covid-19. The Lutheran Care Network has not seen the worst of the pandemic, but addresses the challenges brought by reduced access to loved ones...

When the COVID-19 outbreak reached critical levels, everything shut down and everyone went home. But what do you do when you manage and operate homes for almost 1,000 people? Such was the case for The Lutheran Care Network (TLCN) — an organization that runs and oversees nine senior housing communities from Long Island to the Hudson Valley to the Capital Region. The housing communities range from independent living to adult day care to skilled nursing and rehab facilities and community housing.

“Because we’re in health care, complying with New York State guidelines became a driving force,” said Janet George, director of church and community relations for The Lutheran Care Network.

The communities have had their share of challenges as staff, residents, and families adapt to new protocol and restrictions. Families cannot visit with their parents and grandparents in a cozy dining hall, but they make the best of it, talking on cell phones from outside a resident’s window or using iPad to Facetime family and friends — with a little help from TLCN staff.

“Our staff and administrators have done a remarkable job,” said George. “The isolation is very difficult for the residents and their families. Healthcare staff, more than ever, have become family. They are providing emotional support as well.”

Staff members have not only spent extra time with residents, but have also adapted programming so people can still participate and experience community — even if it is from a distance. Vincent, the music therapist at Lutheran Care Center, Poughkeepsie wasn’t able to play piano in the living room for a gathering of residents so he bought a dolly and wheeled the piano from floor to floor, playing in each dining unit.

Church services were also on hold but spiritual care went on.

“The chaplain, Kelly-Ray Meritt, led four services every week, one on each unit,” George said.

An intern serving her clinical pastoral education hours could not visit patients, but she called more than 300 rehabilitation patients and offered to pray with them.

At Coburg Village, an independent living community in Rexford, communal dining was also off the table, so staff brought meals and snacks to residents in their rooms and apartments. George said thousands of meals and snacks have been delivered since March.

Residents would also sit in their doorways and enjoy games and activities led by the activities director.

“We try to do activities in the hallways so residents can participate,” George said.

While the staff is looking out for residents, TLCN is looking out for the staff. Essential personal protective equipment, while expensive, is deemed essential. Following NYS guidelines, staff is tested weekly for their safety and that of the residents. When services like Adult Day Health Care were suspended, employees were reassigned.

The staff at TLCN are also continuing to serve residents’ families — even if they cannot interact with them face-to-face. Email newsletters keep families informed and family and community members can now donate via a new PayPal account. These donations will allow TLCN to buy more iPads so more residents can stay in touch with loved ones.

“Our people are serving as the hands and feet of God,” George said. “You see it daily in their care and compassion for the residents.”

Latest Posts

Stay in Touch

Sign up for periodic e-mails from the Atlantic district

Sign-up Now!