Residents in assisted living facilities in the area are having to make sacrifices in response to government recommendations and other changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, facilities in Washington and Idaho are placing restrictions on visitors. That includes visits from family members, with exceptions made for end-of-life situations. Places like Good Samaritan Society in Moscow provides tablets so loved ones can communicate through phone or video. Family members can also send a note to the residents through the Good Samaritan website.
Tammie Poe, spokeswoman for Good Samaritan, said recent days have been challenging for the residents because all group activities have been canceled, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Instead, staff try to provide one-on-one activities, such as taking residents for walks around the facility’s campus, Poe said. People can still meet in the common area, but chairs are separated to ensure social distancing.
“It is really challenging and hard right now but we’re doing our best to keep positive,” Poe said.
At Bishop Place in Pullman, communal dining has been suspended. Patrick Reed, a resident there, said meals are delivered to their rooms three times a day. According to a Bishop Place Facebook post, this is also in accordance with CDC recommendations.
Reed said the furniture in the dining hall and lobby has been removed and other communal activities, such as exercise activities, have been canceled. He said there are few places for people to sit if they want to leave their rooms. This has made it difficult for residents to socialize, Reed said, and he now spends most of his day in his room watching television.
Anthony Browning, who coordinates activities for Bishop Place residents, said there is not much he can do to provide entertainment, other than deliver puzzles and ice cream to their rooms.
“I’m supposed to plan the fun but there’s really nothing I can do,” Browning said.
He said some residents are understanding, but others are frustrated by the recent changes.
Reed said he understands why these changes have been implemented, but he fears the limited freedom may have a negative emotional effect on residents. He worries for those with memory impairments because he believes they benefit from the routine of daily activities.
Jennifer Broeckel, business manager for the Courtyard at Colfax, said indoor activities have not changed much for the assisted living residents there, but outside activities have been canceled. Those include activities like church services and trips to hairdressers. She said the residents, all of whom are asymptomatic, can still congregate in the dining hall and seating area of the facility.
She said there was a general feeling of fear among the residents when the coronavirus crisis began, but staff has tried to ease their anxiety by keeping them updated with the latest information.
“I think that’s done a lot to help calm their nerves,” Broeckel said.
Poe encouraged the public to donate supplies such as masks and sanitizer to assisted living facilities if they can. She has also heard reports around the country of people hand-sewing masks and providing them to those in need.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com.