When I was asked to write a blog about The Residence, our Personal Care building on The Campus, one word came to mind; Perspective. I had to wonder what others think, and what do they know. From there I had to consider my own perspective being relatively new to The Campus. I thought we need to discuss, “Perspective.” This when you stop and think it is so difficult to really absorb everyone’s perspective but, would not this world be so much better off if we could all slow down and take in the perspectives of others. I came across this quote that I think really says it all by Jessica McIntosh, “The significance perspective has on our lives is an understated knowledge, only fully realized by those who take the time to truly consider the perspectives of others.”
The perspective of The Residence is different today than it was a year ago, 5 months ago, and today. While I was not here a year ago talking to other trying to gather their perspective…. fear, fear of the unknown, loss – of family, loss of friends, frustration with not understanding the changes day to day to help keep everyone as safe as possible, loss of socialization…. sadness, and it goes on. To think a year ago we were in the early stages of the COVID19 pandemic fighting for supplies we needed to keep people safe. I would say from my perspective it was like wagering through a natural disaster to be the first to get the supplies you needed each day to survive…do not forget the toilet paper! To think back our perspectives changed on what was necessary. The big picnics and family filled activity programs they went to the wayside as we refocused. The things we thought were never possible under our scope or we had others to help with – they became the norm. We exceeded our personal and professional bounds giving of ourselves when we were not sure how we were even going to be able to care for others.
My perspective 5 months ago – as I came to The Residence my perspective was so much opportunity lies ahead for The Residence to serve this community and be nothing but the very best personal care community in the area. I had to quickly gauge my team, the residents, and the culture of the community. What I found was a team that was tired – they endured throughout the pandemic with significant tolls to each of them as well. They were exhausted, they needed help, they needed a team. Like many other communities across our nation staffing was so critically impacted by the pandemic. Our own team members sick and not able to work at times over the past year, agency nurses filling in -here with caring hearts to help us day to day, but it was not their role to look ahead and help create a vision for our team. Our Residents had not eaten a meal with others since before the pandemic, they had not eaten off of real china plates, and had not seen family except through a window/video/phone call. The fear had turned to anger for some, despair for others, and frustration beyond measure with when will it end. The desire for normalcy was immense. We brought on board many new team members including our Wellness Director -Renee, medication techs, and personal care aides. We opened the dining room (and closed several times for COVID cases), we made some changes with visitation to in person opportunities. Activity programs started to resume. Our team going through growing pains, and learning.
The Perspective today – from my perspective the pandemic is not over, we still have rules and restrictions, and we still have that feeling that these rules are in place because there is more to come. We are still like overprotective parents about our residents. While we do have guidelines from federal, state, and local offices to follow, there is truly also an element of our own fear. Over the past year the things we have seen as caregivers is beyond really what I could ever express in words. As I held the hand of someone dying with covid who we could not permit family to be with, to holding a resident as she sobbed and said goodbye to her husband dying of covid over facetime, to watching a healthy nurse practitioner friend fight for her life on a ventilator for 4 months, as I reassured residents every day not really knowing if it was going to be ok, as I encouraged people to wash hands and pull their mask up – cognitively they could not comprehend that we were in a pandemic…..pardon our fear, we are human! Our caregivers have endured the unthinkable on such a mass level.
From the perspective of our residents and their loved ones; the past year has been tough. No in person visits, hugging the ones we miss so much and maybe even a feeling of being “trapped”. We get it, we understand it. From our perspective, it was tough as well. Not being able to do the small things, hold a conversation, hug the ones we love (our residents). We had rules we had to follow, regulations we could not break.
The perspective that we see today at The Residence is much lighter – the air has lifted. Concerts on the back patio have happened, picnics are happening, laughter has returned. We see residents rebounding physically – therapy services are available. Socialization opportunities are now the new norm. How do we know – the everyday little requests are back to life. The small things we can and will do that make such a difference. The bickering among the group at our first live resident council in over a year about whether to play music in the dining room or not was from some perspectives a frustration but from my perspective it was a such a beautiful blessing that our resident voices could be heard. The air has lifted – there is no worry about “am I going to have toilet paper” anymore!
Who knows what the future brings, but as we enter it together, let us all agree to keep an open mind, and try to remember what someone else may be dealing with as well. Remember…everyone’s perspective may be different, but our long-term goal is always the same…