As I think about the death of George Floyd and the protests across America, I am hopeful that change is coming. The magnitude of the protests demands change. The good news is that there are models across the country that have shown that reform is possible. These models shift the focus from law enforcement making arrests to knowing the community, being problem-solving oriented and being servant-guardians. It’s been fifty-six years since Sam Cooke debuted his song, “Change is Gonna Come.” I trust that we’ll see reforms across the nation now and I hope that we’re all changed by this experience – for the better.
In some ways, the reform that we’re hoping for in law enforcement reminds me of the changes that have been underway for a while now in long-term care – where care is now less medical in nature and more person-centered and staff in long-term care are now care partners and servant leaders.
We’re seeing that although Covid-19 is demanding so much of staff in all of our communities, it is bringing out some incredibly creative minds and care partners are accomplishing some amazing feats in efforts to ensure well-being of older adults.
This newsletter has a special message to you from our board chair, Chris Keysor. It also is chock full of information about what your fellow LeadingAge Georgia members are doing during this time to ensure well-being of residents and staff. I hope you will find the information they’ve shared inspiring. I invite you to send in information about what your community is doing so we can share it in future member updates.
I want to let you know that the legislature reconvenes on June 15th and we will likely work on the assisted living bill again. Let us know if you have any input for our advocacy efforts. Here's the latest version of the bill. We expect some changes on the Senate side and then some negotiation between the House and the Senate before the bill passes in its final form.
We are considering having a virtual conference this year in order to make sure members remain safe while being able to get needed CEUs. Let us know if you have any input in this area too.
Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of older adults and the staff who serve them.
A Message from Chris Keysor, LeadingAge Georgia Board Chair
At December’s Annual Business meeting, I challenged us to advance our cause as a community. Our individual communities and as a LeadingAge Georgia Community. Since the COVID threat first emerged I have personally seen highs and lows. The lows have been hard and I have struggled for a minute to keep going. It has been my community that has kept me going.
But the highs have come with so many meaningful feelings. I have been comforted and thankful for Lenbrook’s sense of community throughout this threat. I think the sense of appreciation I feel working in our community has never been stronger.
As for LeadingAge Georgia, I feel like we are also closer than ever. Help with a resource, need or advice is always a call or email away. And as a LeadingAge Georgia community we seem to be faring well. We are making the right decisions for the right reasons.
However, a community is only as strong as it’s parts and this is certainly a time where everyone feels some sense of loss. The COVID threat has compressed down on all of us, but I am particularly concerned about many of our co-workers who have seen the fear and loss from COVID, and are now trying to understand the recent senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
One of the strengths of our teams is the diverse backgrounds we come from and the unique experiences that define us all. We want all our teams to feel welcome, safe and respected. At Lenbrook respect has come to mean understanding what the other person feels is respectful.
What makes our communities special is our ability to care for and support one another especially in trying times. One of Lenbrook’s associates said we should “Pray for one another, be a support system for one another, and Love on one another.” As a community I would like for each of us to try to understand how we can support, connect and love our people.
We Have Always Been Essential
By A.G. Rhodes CEO Deke Cateau
As a black man who leads one of Atlanta’s oldest and largest nonprofits comprised of a predominantly black workforce, I join many others who are angry, hurt, sad, confused, and a whole range of other emotions concerning recent events across our nation.
I am deeply disturbed by the racism, injustice and violence in a country where equality is promised and in a time when we should expect nothing less. I should not be scared for the safety and well-being of my family, my extended family at A.G. Rhodes, or myself because we are black.
The last couple of weeks have amplified the many complicated, systemic societal issues that must be unraveled and addressed before we can truly realize equality, and further racial divide will be detrimental to our progress. I urge us all to be more transparent and honest with ourselves and others. Have the difficult conversations and educate one another. Be kind and understanding. Listen and sympathize even if you don’t have shared experiences.
I’m proud to be black and to work among many black co-workers who have an even more important role now than ever before as we battle COVID-19. To my colleagues at A.G. Rhodes and to the millions of others who work in healthcare and numerous other industries that have been newly coined “essential” during this crisis: It doesn’t take a crisis for you to be essential. You—we—have always been essential.
Deke Cateau’s Message to the A. G. Rhodes Team
The overarching goal of LeadingAge Georgia is to help members create and maintain mission-driven cultures that reflect the well-being of older adults and those who serve them. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who can guide teams through these challenging times, show much deserved appreciation and inspire individuals to be their best selves.
At LeadingAge Georgia, members learn from members and we learn leadership skills from members who are willing to share what they’ve learned. Take a look at this fantastic video of board member Deke Cateau, CEO of A.G. Rhodes as he shares a message with his team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s-NY2f_7WQ.
Tips for Residents Document Shared by Mark Lowell, Board Member and President of St. George Village
St. George village created this COVID-19 tip sheet for residents. Click here to view the form: COVID-19 TIP SHEET
Practices Shared by Dorothy Davis, Board Member and CEO of Visiting Nurse Health System
Like other members of the LeadingAge Georgia community, Visiting Nurse Health System | Hospice Atlanta is also grateful, each day, to be here, able to continue to serve our community’s most vulnerable population during this time of unprecedented healthcare crisis brought on by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
As Georgia’s oldest home healthcare and hospice provider, we knew that we wanted to immediately continue serving our patients through COVID-19 pandemic, as well as letting our partners, hospital and facility, know we are here to help them also immediately hit with pandemic complications. Being able to treat and keep patients healthy and safe in their home, lowering the risk of their infection, as well as supporting our hospital and facility partners was our laser focus.
Although the effects of this virus have presented new challenges, Visiting Nurse was able to remain staffed and prepared to care for our community’s health care needs. To do so, is not, and was not an easy task. Below is a high-level overview of the numerous practices we implemented, as we focus on monitoring how COVID-19 has affected our: operational costs, staffing needs/shifts, the health and care of our patients and care workers on the front lines, while continuing to fulfill our mission: to bring healthcare to those in need. We employed our Internal Pandemic Internal Operations protocols and practices throughout our 6 divisions of home health care and hospice services, in order to treat our patients, support our medical and facility partners, assist our hospice patients and their families as they face the process of dying and grief during COVID-19 pandemic.
Click HERE for details.
Practices Shared by Debi McNeil, Board Member and President/CEO of Canterbury Court
Our Resident Services team, Wellness Director and Director of Pastoral Services have all been making regular calls to residents, particularly those most at risk of isolation. We have made great use of online resources for staying connected. We are offering live Zoom fitness classes as well as pre-recorded classes that can be viewed from resident’s computers or watched on TV through scheduled replays on our in-house channel. Our Wellness Director has also offered 1:1 tele coaching for residents who need a little extra assistance. Our Director of Pastoral Care has done 1:1 virtual visits with residents, does weekly evening services via Zoom, and converted his journey groups which are small resident support groups to Zoom. He also sends out multiple weekly videos with inspirational messages and teachings.
Our Resident Services team has worked closely with residents to make sure they are able to utilize technology to participate in community events and stay connected to family and friends. They have put out daily activities packets and worked with volunteers on trivia and brain boosting games for residents as well. They assist residents with online orders and deliveries and also do curbside pick-up for residents for groceries and other essential items. They work with our residents to keep our in-house store stocked with goods. Our residents who run our in-house store have been taking phone orders and making apartment deliveries of goods while the store has been closed. The Resident Services team has added to our daily calendar information for the MET’s nightly Opera livestream. They have arranged for outdoor traveling concerts so that residents on all sides of our building can go out to the balconies to enjoy live music and have been showing Movies selected by our resident movie committee on our in-house community channel since our movie theater has been closed. They have puzzles and DVD’s available for check out for residents as well. They recently organized a car parade that was very successful. It gave residents the opportunity to get out in their cars for a short trip.
All dining has been delivered to resident apartments since mid-March. Our dining team has been delivering special snacks to residents twice a week in the afternoon with different themes such as nacho bar, fruit smoothies, ice cream sundaes, meat and cheese plates, soft pretzels, etc.. They have done extra special moments for Mother’s Day, Easter, and Cinco de Mayo. Below is a collage of pictures of residents with their chocolate bunnies for Easter.
Our residents have really embraced their new normal and have adapted beautifully with the technology. They are utilizing Zoom for their committee meetings and resident council events. We have been able to use it for our monthly administrative updates as well. We capped out at 100 residents attending on our last update. Below is a picture from a Resident Council Executive Committee meeting on Zoom.
Our nursing team has been hard at work to keep the moral of the residents and each other going. They put together a great video a fun treat for everyone. I’m also sharing two PSAs our residents did early on in the virus to promote social distancing. Our key has been working with them to get develop tools to get through this together not just working for them. It’s been a true partnership and really contributed to keeping morale up. PSA 1 PSA 2
Collaboration at Campbell-Stone
By Maria Manahan
Campbell-Stone is relying on the generosity and creativity of our larger community to ensure the wellbeing of staff and residents during the pandemic. In addition to following CDC guidance and recommendations of state health agencies, we listen and learn from our amazing colleagues, LeadingAge, LeadingAge Georgia, HUD HUB (a group of six HUD communities in our area), and other colleagues and associations. We also collaborate with our residents by carefully listening to them and evaluating the impact that each decision will have on their lives. One idea that was shared by colleagues and has been a hit with our Campbell-Stone Sandy Springs residents and staff is activities that residents attend from their balconies. These concerts, sing-a-longs and games keep staff and residents connected to each other.
Peggy Brooks, of St. Marks Tower’s Shares What They’re During to Support Residents during Covid-19
The Georgia National Guard has been awesome in servicing St. Mark’s over the past 6 weeks. They actually have decontaminated the Towers 5 times during this period as well as completing Covid-19 testing for all staff and residents. We feel so fortunate for this process and residents are very receptive and grateful. We were able to organize this process through our local Emergency Management Director. We are set for one more visit this coming Monday however have been notified that any future procedures would have to be once again organized and directed by the EMA Director moving forward.
I have heard that the Governor may set up for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities to receive fogging equipment and products moving forward but have yet to confirm this with our local Director. In our experience, our EMA Director has always included our property within the scope of these entities. I feel confident that if this is to take place, we would be included in this plan.
We limited our visitors to essential only and required masks. We were able to save money by having a group of volunteers make and donate masks for each and everyone of our residents and staff which was a great savings and protection for us.
We coordinated with our EMA director, the decontamination through the Georgia National Guard.
We collaborated with Second Harvest Food Bank to receive the remaining food products remaining from their food distribution to the community. This has been to be extremely helpful to residents. Leading Age Georgia provided a gift to help with food for residents in need.
We have provided weekly communications to residents to keep them updated on all we are doing to keep them safe and any changes implemented.
We distribute weekly, handouts of positive material to keep them energized and help combat depression and anxiety.
We have a Facebook page that we keep updated to provide information as well encouragement and positivity.
We made banners for our lobbies giving Thanks and Appreciation to all residents for their cooperation and resilience. Just trying to keep things as positive as we can.
Keeping Spirits Up at Wesley Woods
By Terry Barcroft
At Wesley Woods, the team, Resident’s and their families showed UP! The team quickly shifted into creativity mode and developed new programming that allowed residents and family members to remain engaged, connected and safe while sheltering in place. They truly lived our mission to create communities of connection, wellbeing and promise in the midst of disconnection, illness and discouragement.
Wesley Woods fostered a Mother’s Day celebration with signs of love
The staff are donning masks made by residents
The staff are keeping spirits up with fashions that bring smiles to residents
And clearly, the residents are grateful for the Wesley Woods staff
Avery Villines, Shares how Brandon Wilde Life Plan Community Fosters Resident Engagement with Nature During Covid-19
Brandon Wilde is a certified wildlife refuge with 72 acres and Avery Villines, their senior director of community life services says “the sanctuary has been our saving grace.” She said their residents are nature lovers and have the option of walking on paths or tending their own mini-gardens and they appreciate it more than ever during the pandemic.
Residents Jack and Judy Ross delivered twelve pounds of green beans and eight pounds of tomatoes to the local Boys & Girls clubs to help feed children in need of meals. Check out this video that shows the joy that residents have while gardening: https://youtu.be/i2atJ9ilPVI.
Avery said they have a weekly newsletter with a feature article that everyone looks forward to called “How Does Your Garden Grow.” It features photos of mini-gardens as well as plants grown on balconies or in the residents’ apartments.
They also think of fun ways to engage residents with the wildlife on the property, like celebrating the birth of a baby gosling.
We have a new resident at Brandon Wilde… a new baby gosling! Please submit your name choice on the board near the office.
To create a sense of playfulness for residents, they created a paper laminated drawing of “Wilde Waldow” and placed him in areas outside for residents to find. Whoever finds him gets to bring him to the office and collect their prize - a bottle of wine.
Check out Brandon Wilde’s “Wilde Waldo” see the message they leave for residents and consider how you might encourage similar playfulness in your community.
Wilde Waldo. It's time to have some fun!
Look carefully at Wilde Waldo. He will be hiding somewhere outdoors at Brandon Wilde.
Your challenge is to find Wilde Waldo using the clue provided. If you find him, please bring him to Debi or Avery and claim your prize! The winner will also be the person to declare his next hiding place.
Cane poles are left by their two ponds so that residents can fish when they feel like it.
Fishing at the Pond with Cane poles! BYOB…Bring your own Bait!- Resident Jeri Whitworth
With Brandon Wilde being located in Augusta, many residents have an annual pilgrimage to the Master’s. With it cancelled this year, these golf enthusiasts (and good sports) brought out their Master’s chairs, pimento cheese sandwiches and held their own Master’s party.
Brandon Wilde recently hosted an outdoor party for residents. With an effort to keep social distancing, residents were invited to come in their golf carts and dance in their carts!
Residents had a great opportunity for showing staff appreciation. They were invited to make paper airplanes, write messages on them to individuals who are making their lives better and then residents flew them off of their balconies. The planes were taken to the Brandon Wilde office where they were shared with staff members.
Railey Warren, a sixteen year old chalk artist who was featured on the Augusta news was commissioned by Brandon Wilde to draw on the paths leading to the min-gardens.
Please Send us Information on How Your Community is Fostering the Well-being of Residents and Staff So We Can Share Promising Practices with Your LeadingAge Georgia Community