Donors like you have told us that you are particularly concerned with the well-being of our vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had the opportunity to speak with Jason Kosolofski, Recreation Therapist at Carewest George Boyack Care Centre, about what day-to-day life has been like for residents during these challenging times and how you’ve supported them in their time of need.
1) How do the quarantine and physical distancing impact the mental health of residents?
I think quarantine has been very difficult on the residents of George Boyack. Some of the residents have the ability to keep themselves occupied during these challenging times while many do not. They feel anxious and nervous being surrounded by the same four walls for weeks at time not knowing when it will end. Loneliness is a key factor in the isolation. The only real interaction they are receiving comes from staff either checking in on them or providing care. Physical distancing although great for virus protection, causes a lack of human touch and loss of connection for many of the residents in the building. They need our love and support more than ever!
2) Please tell us how quarantine and social distancing impact the day-to-day lives of residents.
They miss the social aspect of dining together, being able to chat with fellow residents for support when quarantined. Most of all they miss their families and loved ones visiting. They have to accept technologies many of them knew nothing about in order to communicate with loved ones. The social distancing has an effect on many different aspects of a resident’s daily life. It has limited the types of recreation they can enjoy on a daily basis. Smaller groups, no singing, no sharing of items, very little human touch other than the care they receive. Many residents enjoyed the competitions that larger group programs like rollerball and floor hockey would provide. They love to be part of a team and social distancing just seems to lessen that feeling overall.
3) How can mental health also impact the physical well-being of residents?
Mental can impact all aspects of residents daily life. Positive mental health can mean: A brighter outlook for the day ahead. Smiles. Participation in Recreation Programming. A good appetite at meals. A willingness to be assistive with care. To be a little more patient with fellow residents who may not be having a positive day. Just the opposite can happen when mental health is not at its best. It can lead to poor motivation. A poor appetite at meal time. A resistance to care may arise. Confrontation can occur when persons with poor metal health cannot display tolerance or the patience needed to prevent it.
4) What types of activities have the most positive impact on staff and residents during this time?
The activities with the greatest impact that our recreation team are facilitating are mostly physical in nature. Getting outside for “fresh air” strolls or working in the gardens. The exercise program has been very positive in providing an outlet to help burn off steam and frustrations as well. Video chats and phones call have been another positive experience for both staff and residents alike. We have done thousands of very rewarding video calls since the end of March. The best thing I have heard during these calls was a resident explaining to a family about how they are so proud that at 90 years old they learned how to use an Ipad.
We did have the opportunity for three Mariachi Musicians to come in and just play instrumental music. This I would have to say, was the number one spirit booster overall. The positive energy flowed freely and the performers recognized it and carried it with them long after they left our building.
5) What does it mean to you to receive community support during these challenging times of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Community support for us at George Boyack means everything! It warms the heart of those who have worked long hours and fought so hard to keep a deadly enemy at bay. Caring giving can be very task-oriented however it is a very emotional profession as well. The positive feedback from the community around us lifts up the spirits and recharges the batteries for all of us here. Everyone from the maintenance or housekeeping staff and administration to therapies and nursing all can appreciate the support of the community around us. It creates positive feelings and speaks volumes to everyone to let them know they are not alone in this fight against COVID-19.