TOWSON, Md. — Nursing homes and retirement communities are locking down during this pandemic, in an effort to keep their residents safe. That means no outside visitors and no group activities which can be tough for the people who live there.
The activities staff at Pickersgill Retirement Community decided they needed to do something to keep their residents active and engaged.
"We understand the difficulties of isolation and trying to ease that as best as we can," said Melissa Miller, the Activities Director at Pickersgill Retirement Community. She added, "there's a normalcy to life. There’s habits and we don’t want to take that away from people. During an extraordinary time like this, it’s really important to keep spirits high and routine as much as we can."
They decided to lean on technology, like many other organizations right now. Pickersgill has a broadcast system in their facility which allows them to broadcast directly to each TV in each room. Typically it's used for announcements or emergencies. Now, it's used for daily activities like bingo or other games.
"Those are their regular activities but now at a safe distance," said Miller. She added, "exercise videos like yoga, meditation, Tai chi. Keep the physical aspect going because that’s very important to people’s well being."
The WMAR news crew was not allowed inside the building to see these activities. However, staff members sent us some pictures and videos of residents completing these activities. They even sent us video of some of the residents talking about being about to do these activities. All of them are grateful for these activities and the staff members putting them together.
"I really miss what we were doing before but I really like what’s being done now because it helps the isolation. I like the symphonies, I like the movies! I really like everything," said Lillian Blome, a resident.
Since most of the activities are done in the comfort of their own rooms, some people are a little more comfortable joining in.
"We're getting a lot more people to participate in these activities that normally wouldn’t participate and I’m seeing a lot of that. That’s making me happy," said Bridget Baker, an activities assistant.
The staff understands there is no replacement for human interaction so they make sure to visit every person every day.
They thank us so much and that is heart warming. visiting people one on one, a lot of people it could be tiring but that really lightens my heart and makes me feel good to be their family for them at this time and they’re so so appreciative," said Lynn Hunovice, an activity assistant.
They even do happy hours, ice cream carts and book mobiles just give them a little more social interaction.
"You girls do a great job trying to keep us active and entertained and I certainly appreciate what you do for us," said Pat Kohlhapp, a resident.
"We know that you are in this with us. We feel like we’re a little group and that is good when you’re by yourself. To feel like we do have recourse even if it is just to say how are you, whatever and I think you’ve done that for us. It took a lot of thinking and planning to do what you do and that means you care and to me that’s very important," said Evelyn King, a resident.
There's even drawings from people in the community put up around the building to spread a little more positivity.