Cullman area long term care facilities get creative during Covid-19 quarantine

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One of Hanceville Nursing Home’s residents, Virgina Nail, is visited by her family. (photo courtesy of Kim Allred)

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. — Wednesday marks two weeks since the doors began closing to visitors at assisted living and nursing home facilities throughout Cullman County and the State of Alabama. Administrators and staff of facilities in Cullman have been working especially hard to help ease the minds of their residents by finding creative ways to keep them active and in communication with families and loved ones.

Administrator Donna Guthrie and the staff at Hanceville Nursing and Rehab have scheduled many new activities for those in their care.

“We keep them in groups of 10 or less and on pretty days we do our best to get them outside just to let them see something different. Yesterday, they had a hall at a time and did bingo with them. They had chips and dip day one day,” Guthrie said. “We do our best, weather permitting, to get them outside. Just go outside for some ice cream, lemonade, or a glass of sweet tea. Just get them out and thinking about something else. We do a lot of singing and have a lot of music.”

The residents do miss their large group activities and visits from family and friends. They have been using technology to help residents stay in touch with loved ones.

“We do try to video chat. The families that do have the phones where you can do facetime, we do that. By all means we encourage calling and talking to them on the phone.” 

Dee Dee Mosley, executive director at Morningside Assisted Living, said, “We are doing a lot of one-on-one activities and we’ve been doing video chats and Facebooking. We have had families up here to the windows and a lot of different things. Being creative.”

Morningside is using having a PA system in their facility to their advantage during the current lockdown. “We’ve used the system for Bingo, devotional and singing while keeping residents at a safe distance.” The residents of Morningside have also written letters and taken pictures to send to their families and loved ones. 

Wanda Raines, executive director of Westminster Assisted Living, has implemented many of the same strategies to keep everyone’s spirits up.

“We are having a Little Debbie cake walk today, they are doing dominoes right now and bingo today. They are doing noodle ball, cornhole toss and making soap.”

At Westminster, they are also using facetime and Skype to help their residents stay in touch with their families. The residents are also able to get outside for fresh air with trips to the facility’s courtyard. 

As for the staff and the extra efforts in keeping everyone safe and upbeat, Raines said, “They are all troopers on it.” She did describe the residents as being a tad “antsy” but reports that overall, everyone is doing good. 

Guthrie said of her staff, “They are just trying to rack their brain to make sure they give them something to look forward to. We do everything we know to do to keep their mind occupied and something to look forward to and to just keep going.” 

Guthrie added, “They are missing their family. We wish that things were different. This is going to last, and I was telling the staff this morning that it’s been 2 weeks today that we closed the doors. It seems a lot longer than that, but we don’t let anyone come.”

Even deliveries are done completely outside and not allowed to come inside. The only exceptions are outside medical professionals and family in the event of an end of life situation.

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