At Fellowship Senior Living, getting a head start on establishing Coronavirus protocol is one reason why they have been able to contain the spread and limit the number of cases breaking out across a vulnerable population.

As early as March 10, all clients and their families were notified of the initial steps being taken to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. Rather than isolate their clients and perhaps raise the level of stress, they instituted practical and effective measures. Initially outside guests were limited and then step two followed quickly with all outside guests being disallowed. Group activities were canceled, but the clients have the freedom to walk around, sit in the lobby (with a distance of six feet space between them being enforced) and even pick up take out items in the Bistro.

There is a strict focus on safety first. Every staff member, and those clients who are able to occasionally leave the campus, must take their temperature upon returning as well as completing a  questionnaire asking if they have been around anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, have traveled by plane, have another job or display any symptoms. Only then do they gain access to the building.

While safety and wellness are the first priorities, the entire staff understands that maintaining a sense of community and strong relationships is also key. In fact, the Fellowship Village is now producing closed circuit television shows in their studio, featuring exercise classes, religious programming, entertainment, a town hall style Q&A session with the Medical Director and even their own Tonight Show featuring interviews with various team members.

In addition, with no outside visitors, the leadership has had to be innovative, introducing iPads for video chats with family members and allowing families to drop off cooked meals.

All of these initiatives are designed to keep up the morale, both for the residents and their families and also for the team.  In fact, one morning all of the senior managers arrived at 6:00 am to stand outside and greet the staff arriving for the 7:00 am shift, welcoming them with signs of appreciation and a breakfast bag. They repeated the same warm show of gratitude when the 3:00 pm staff arrived – and through a partnership with Jersey Mike’s, those working that day were given lunch bags with yummy sub-sandwiches.

Everyone at Fellowship Senior Living is working as a team, caring about each other. This includes care givers, housekeepers, dining workers, senior management staff and everyone who enters the community every day. There is also a commitment to keeping in close contact with board members, volunteers and donors by reaching out and making sure everyone remains healthy and in good spirits.

All of this comes with a hefty, unexpected price tag. The budget for the year did not anticipate or accommodate the cost of thermometers, masks, booties, signage and the like - so it is critical to share the story and to alert all of the families regarding the challenges facing the organization. But the high level of service, the dedication to extraordinary care, and adherence to a proactive philosophy will continue unabated until this crisis passes.

What’s Working?

To sum it up, putting those you care for and serve first, identifying unique ways to keep them safe but also to keep them engaged and in good spirits, recognizing and appreciating all staff, and connecting with all supporters, is what distinguishes this community!