Heartwarmers

Part of: Member-to- Member Solutions During the Coronavirus Crisis

Touching stories and anecdotes from the front lines.

Member Story #10: Couple Reunited After 6-Plus Weeks of Quarantine, With Great TV Coverage
Member Story #9: A Creative Video of Thanks for Frontline Workers
Member Story #8: A “Live Well” Parade Brings Residents and Staff Together
Member Story #7: Provider Launches Weekly “Prayer for the World” Conference Call
Member Story #6: A Music Video Highlighting Positive Spirits of Staff and Residents
Member Story #5: “Discharge Dances” for Residents Who Have Recovered from Coronavirus
Member Story #4: National Guard Helps Provider Protect Against Coronavirus
Member Story #3: Residents Let Off Steam With a Nightly Howl, Enjoy Live Music
Member Story #2: Touching Profile of a Resident Living Under COVID-19 Restrictions
Member Story #1: A Simple Human Connection

 

Member Story #10: Couple Reunited After 6-Plus Weeks of Quarantine, With Great TV Coverage

Hooverwood, Indianapolis, IN, was the site of a heartwarming scene when residents Joyce and Don Hoffman were reunited after being separated for 6 weeks by the coronavirus.

Joyce Hoffman tested positive for the virus on May 1 and the couple had to live separately. Fortunately, her symptoms were mild.

Staff arranged the homecoming as a surprise for Don. The couple, both age 90, have been married for 67 years.

The story got strong television coverage, including appearances on the Today Show and on ABC News (the latter video is the better of the 2).

Member Story #9: A Creative Video of Thanks for Frontline Workers

The finance team at Presbyterian Senior Living, Dillsburg, PA, put together a clever video, “A Quaran ‘team’ Message,” to thank frontline staff. It features brief appearances by 29 staff, who keep the narrative moving along, one word at a time. You’ll have to watch the whole video to see how the message comes together.

Member Story #8: A “Live Well” Parade Brings Residents and Staff Together

The independent living team at Bluestem Communities, Hesston, KS, has been intentional about connecting with residents every week. One week it was cookie delivery; during another week, staff delivered “hugs”—in the form of Hershey’s chocolates.

In the last week of April, the communities held a Live Well parade, involving 400-plus independent living residents at Kidron Bethel Village (North Newton) and Schowalter Villa (Hesston). Residents were sent advance emails about preparations, inviting them to make posters, dance, wave and wear their Bluestem Communities shirts.

“They definitely got creative and made some amazing posters,” says Director of Communications Morgan Redding. “As staff drove by, they played music, threw candy, and took photos and videos.”

At Showalter Villa, the kids from an on-campus childcare center participated as well.

A “teaser video” of the parade is available; the full parade is covered on the Bluestem website, and on its Facebook page.

A few residents commented on the parade:

  • “Thanks for the fun parade by all of the staff. So many of you joined! And so many of the residents stayed afterwards to visit. It was great! Thanks for your planning this!”
  • “Thank you for the Live Well Parade! I loved it; you all gave us a boost! That was really fun.”
  • “We liked the nice craziness of the parade!”

Member Story #7: Provider Launches Weekly “Prayer for the World” Conference Call

“We’re one world, fighting the same battle.”

That’s how Keisha Clark, director of development at the Stoddard Baptist Home Foundation, Washington, DC, describes the thought behind her idea to create “A Prayer for the World.”

Originally conceived as a one-time, dial-in conference call for prayers led by a pastor, the concept is now a regular weekly event, offering prayers for the whole world as it fights COVID-19.

A link to A Prayer for the World is on the Stoddard Baptist COVID-19 webpage. It is scheduled for Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. Eastern. The call-in number is 319-527-3511, and the access code is 245464. Stoddard asks that callers skip their name announcement, and keep their phones on mute.

“We invite a different pastor each week. I share with them our mission and how it’s not specific to our organization, but to coronavirus and the plight of the world,” Clark says. “We get different perspectives.” Guest ministers have been from the Washington, DC, area, but Clark says she is recruiting pastors from other parts of the country for future prayers.

“We have a schedule, to stay on topic and within a certain time period, because for health care workers, time is precious,” Clark adds. She serves as moderator and introduces the minister. Steve Nash, Stoddard Baptist Home president and CEO, includes brief remarks as well.

“I’ve had donors and supporters reach out to ask us if we want to continue doing this,” Clark says. “People really feel the need to come together and pray as a body, and it has struck a chord with a lot of people. It’s humbling to hear people say they are excited for next week’s call.

“We’re one world, fighting the same battle. We all need prayer.”

Member Story #6: A Music Video Highlighting Positive Spirits of Staff and Residents

Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS), Cincinnati OH, has produced a positive, fun music video highlighting the great work by their employees and residents during the coronavirus crisis.

Laura Lamb, president & CEO, sent a link and the story behind the video:

“I know you will agree that we are all tired of hearing the negative sound bites about nursing homes during this pandemic.

“We at ERS wanted to help. You may have heard that Tennessee’s governor asked the music industry to come up with songs for PSAs for the state. Big and Rich came up with a song, ‘Stay Home.’ Great content in lyrics that support handwashing and staying home. Being an 80s child myself, growing up with MTV, I enlisted the help of our risk management team to produce a music video for our residents and staff. The goal was to add some joy into our day.

“Our Risk Management Team—who often are perceived internally as the ‘rule team’—wanted to do something fun, yet in keeping with all of our messaging about safety. They made a music video with our residents and staff that [is guaranteed] to make you smile.”

Enjoy the ERS video here.

Member Story #5: “Discharge Dances” for Residents Who Have Recovered from Coronavirus

The Jewish Home Family, Rockleigh, NJ, has had COVID-19-positive residents, and has started a tradition of “Discharge Dances” by staff to welcome recovered residents back to their apartments:

Jewish Home Family staff has also been decorating their PPE masks, isolation gowns, etc. with slogans and witty puns. There is another video of a PPE fashion show put on by employees.

Member Story #4: National Guard Helps Provider Protect Against Coronavirus

After Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced, on April 2, that the National Guard would be mobilized to help disinfect Georgia nursing homes, Lenbrook, Atlanta, GA, was contacted by the National Guard.

The organization’s COVID-19 Task Force welcomed the opportunity. On April 9, 42 troops (3 National Guard platoons) arrived at Lenbrook and worked for 8 hours over 2 days. The troops’ remit was to disinfect places the virus could hide or linger, not to clean. They worked in common areas, laundry and maintenance areas, the health care center, and assisted living.

John Clark, Lenbrook Nursing Home administrator, wrote an interesting account of the visit (including photos), available on the Lenbrook website.

Member Story #3: Residents Let Off Steam With a Nightly Howl, Enjoy Live Music

At Kavod Senior Life, Denver, CO, residents are getting involved in the 8 p.m. “howling” that’s been going on in many communities. On April 16, some Kavod residents joined with neighboring apartment complexes in full force.

Enjoy the howling here.

One participant, Mardene, says, “I've been howling every night! I'm in the East building facing east, so the big apartment buildings in front of me howl long and loud—lots of young people with cowbells and flashing lights!

“It's so freeing to draw in a huge breath and let it rip!”

On April 22, Kavod invited a ragtime band to play outside resident apartments—15 minutes on each side of the building. (See a local news article on the band’s visit.) On April 29, Kavod invited bagpipers and drums to play.

“The band choices are ones that can be loud, so we can project all the way up to our highest floors,” says Christie Ziegler, director of communications and marketing.

Kavod is supplying a beverage of choice (beer, boxed/canned wine, or soda), delivered to residents’ doors, so they can enjoy happy hour.

Member Story #2: Touching Profile of a Resident Living Under COVID-19 Restrictions

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News is a touching and entertaining profile of a resident at CC Young Senior Living, Dallas, TX.

The article, “Does coronavirus worry a 94-year-old Marine who survived World War II? How Dallas elders see the pandemic,” by Metro columnist Sharon Grigsby, profiles resident John Gould.

Gould, a retired American Heart Association employee and piano tuner (he became the latter at age 65), is a church leader, trumpeter, woodworker, and long-time CC Young resident.

The article includes his good advice for everyone: “Take it easy, pray for each other and look after your neighbors, even if you don’t know them that well—especially those who are lonely or really fragile.”

Member Story #1: A Simple Human Connection

This story comes direct from Jeannee Parker Martin, president and CEO of LeadingAge California:

“Yesterday [April 1], my son, Christopher, who lives in Philadelphia, told me that he called an 85-year-old man whom he had befriended while in college. He hadn’t heard from him for 6-9 months, and when he called him several times the past few weeks, there was no answer.

“He was driving by this gentleman’s house early yesterday morning so he decided to go up and knock on the door (social distancing of course) to make sure he was okay. A young man answered the door, and told him the older man had sold the house and moved into a nearby retirement community. Christopher learned that the community is The Hill at Whitemarsh, a LeadingAge member in Lafayette Hill, PA.

“[My son] called the front desk and asked to be connected to his [friend]. He was immediately connected, and lo and behold, the older man was doing fine and Christopher was glad to speak with him. We don’t get too many happy stories these days, and I really liked that he didn’t stop at the first ‘no answer.’”

Visit our COVID-19 resources section for more resources.

LeadingAge wants to hear from you! Tell us stories of how your organization is adapting and innovating to manage with the coronavirus crisis. We are looking for stories about: staff management, worker welfare, and recruitment; childcare; care and services for residents and clients; personal protective equipment (PPE); communication; food services; advocacy; resident engagement; heartwarming anecdotes; and more.

Contact Gene Mitchell at gmitchell@leadingage.org or 202-508-9424.