COVID-19's impact on memory care.
Reflecting on 2020 is bittersweet. COVID-19 has brought such upheaval to our way of life. In many ways it has been exceedingly difficult, sad, and harmful, but in other ways there have been some positive aspects that may not have occurred otherwise. We have seen both in relation to how COVID-19 has affected individuals caring for those living with dementia.
We know that COVID-19 devastated our long-term care communities. An AARP article released in February 2021 said that at least 160,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities had died from the illness. That is more than 41% of the nearly 389,000 total COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. at that time, per the Covid Tracking Project.
But we have seen heroes too.
Communities have rallied around their long-term care centers, dropping off food, snacks, cards, and signs of thanks. They made snowmen outside windows and walked their dogs around the building so residents would have something different to look at. The list goes on.
Then there are our partner caregivers who have faced the challenges of the pandemic with passion and strength, despite the situation at hand.
Some of those heroes work for one of our partners in Dover, New Hampshire. The work began pre-pandemic with a small but passionate team who was committed to learning all they could to better support residents with memory care needs. COVID hit full force just as we were starting to put our systems and processes into place. The pandemic took focus away from our efforts for a moment, but the team pivoted quickly to begin applying their new tools, despite everything else they had to do. They also resumed training with us virtually, making time even as they went above and beyond to care for their residents.
In December 2020, as this first phase of work drew to an end, we asked the team to share their thoughts about our time together. This is what Administrator Kirstin Swanson said:
“Our staff is gaining a level of knowledge about our residents that was not present before and learning the true definition of person-centered care. This knowledge and confidence are translating to a better quality of life for our residents and a work-place culture that values our resident’s best ability to function at every stage of their lives. The Dementia Care Specialist team is dedicated and always available, especially as we continue our journey through the pandemic and all the extra challenges it has presented.”
Our partners see the value in what Dementia Care Specialists at Crisis Prevention Institute offers, because it is more than a training program. It is also more than consulting, providing you with some knowledge or tools and then moving on. We are people who stand ready to lock arms with you as together we move forward with a shared mission and goal:
“We believe that all individuals, including those living with dementia, can thrive and experience quality of life. Individuals living with dementia do not have to suffer from dementia.”
We look forward to locking arms with more like-minded partners in the future, as we all consider what comes next. When we get through this, we can look to the future to help grow ourselves and our organizations, and help others see how they can build teams who rally together during challenging times.
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