Seniors keeping safe

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities helping residents pass the time, stay entertained during shelter in place

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ROCHELLE – With many nursing homes and assisted living facilities on lockdown and not allowing visitors, the staff has gotten creative to help its residents pass the time and stay entertained. 

With senior citizens at a higher risk for the coronavirus, nursing homes and assisted living facilities such as Hawthorne Inn and Rochelle Rehab and Healthcare Center, located in Rochelle, have been taking many precautions to keep their residents safe. These precautions include not allowing any visitors inside the building, limiting large group gatherings such as communal dining and screening everybody, including staff, who enter the building.

Other precautions include educating residents and staff on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, as well as following all CDC guidelines. Both facilities’ top priority is the health and safety of the residents. 

“Our commitment is always to make sure our residents are cared for in a safe and healthy environment,” said Peggy Holt, campus administrator. “We have put in place many precautions and restrictions to ensure our residents remain in a healthy and safe environment.”

Along with the many precautions, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are in frequent communication with local and state health officials, as well as the residents’ families. While no visitors are allowed inside the building, people can bring items for residents to the front entrance and staff will disinfect and deliver them. 

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With assistance from Hawthorne Inn staff, residents have been sending messages to family through Facebook, just like Agatha Knaak.

Since no visitors are allowed into the building and residents are unable to gather in groups, staff has vamped up its one-on-one activities with the residents. Staff go to the individual resident’s room to bring the activity of his or her choice, or to just visit with him or her. 

The residents have been very appreciative of their one-on-one time with the staff. Since the staff and residents have been spending more time together, the relationship between them has become stronger. 

“I would definitely say the staff and residents are getting closer,” said Nyla Krabbenhoft, Rochelle Rehab and Healthcare Center administrator. “There is more laughter and having fun between them.” 

Staff are encouraging residents to remain in their room. But, they can walk around the building and outside with the help of a staff member as long as they are practicing social distancing. Family and friends of residents have even paid visits to their windows to say hello and cheer them up. 

Staff are thinking outside the box and getting creative for future ideas to entertain the residents. One idea they are working on is called, “In a hallway near you”, where staff members go room to room singing.

Rochelle Rehab and Healthcare Center is also participating in the Heart Hunters Facebook event. For the event, people cut out hearts, decorate them and put them up in their windows. Another favorite activity of the residents is room bingo. Even when the nursing home thinks it is time for a new game, the residents keep asking for bingo.

“We have been doing room bingo where residents match it up like a crossword puzzle,” said Krabbenhoft. “Our residents absolutely love bingo, no matter how many times we think we have to do something else, they want bingo.”

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Alice Shultz at Hawthorne Inn won a prize for guessing the number of candies in the jar - a room to room game that residents played with staff assistance.

Staff members say the residents understand this is for their own protection and are in good spirits considering the situation. While the community is facing tough times, Hawthorne Inn and Rochelle Rehab and Healthcare Center are confident everybody will get through this together. 

“We are doing everything we can to make sure our residents are safe, comfortable and protected from the virus, said Holt. “With us all working together, we are going to get through this.”