Nursing home residents have pretty much been isolated from their families since the pandemic began in March of this year. Visits initially were not allowed. Then, as numbers declined, nursing homes were able to make some provisions for visits even if it meant window visits, Facetime visits, or outside visits with family members remaining six feet apart.
And, while these attempts to keep residents and families connected worked, it still lacked that personal touch that so many desired. TLC has been diligent in this challenging time to keep residents occupied and making efforts to help family members stay connected with their loved ones.
Just when it appeared there was a chance the positivity rate of COVID cases would fall below the 10 percent level (allowing in-house visits once again), the number has instead increased and does not appear to be dropping any time soon. TLC Nursing Home administrator Martin Yeomans and several team members began brainstorming how visits with a personal touch could happen, all while following guidelines set forth by the CDC.
The team quickly discovered that a few other nursing homes had designed a type of visitation station that allows patients and visitors to reach through a hole lined with large gloves in a plexiglas barrier and hold their loved one’s hand for the first time in months. Within two days, the team had a design for visitation stations that could be expedited and allow families and residents to hug or hold hands while visiting.
It has been two weeks since these types of visits began. Yeomans said seeing firsthand the personal connection it makes for residents and families can make even the strong a bit teary-eyed. He recently witnessed a resident in his 80s and the gentleman’s wife touch and then hold hands as they visited for the allotted 30 minutes. He noticed tears well up in the resident’s eyes, which in turn caused a few more teary eyes at the nursing home.
Guidelines stipulate that everyone has to be screened prior to the visits. After their temperature is checked and visitors are sanitized, they can reach out and feel the love transmitted through hand holding or even hugging. It may not be ideal, but it is the best option during these trying times.
TLC usually has visits at the visitation station on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, though these days may have to be changed from time to time. Since implementing this creative way of visiting, the time slots have been almost completely filled.
Anyone with family at TLC who wants to have these type of visits will need to call activities director Ina Brown at 205-625-3520 ext. 321 to schedule a visit. At this point the visits are scheduled on a week-by-week basis.
Yeomans said, “We are happy to be able to do this type of visit until we can return to regular visits. We are always looking at ways to keep our residents connected with their families, all while remaining safe.”
TLC is currently taking suggestions through their Facebook page for the name of the visitation station. If you have a suggestion or would like to vote on any of those already listed, visit the TLC Facebook page and cast your vote.