Armstrong’s Heaton Place staff are quickly adapting to ensure their residents are getting access to regular programming amid COVID-19. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

WATCH: Armstrong retirement community adapts amid COVID-19

Heaton Place rethinks programming to ensure residents stay safe, healthy and entertained

Heaton Place Retirement Community’s resident relations co-ordinator, Carrie O’Neill is a strong believer in the adage that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change and COVID-19 has provided us with that opportunity.

This virus will teach us to question many things, and one such thing will be how we look at our work.

Perhaps, Bill Gates said it best: “It (the virus) is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other, and to be of benefit to one another.”

The residents of Heaton Place have been self-isolating in their suites since March 21st.

They have transitioned from social engagement to isolation.

For some, the change has been easy; and for others, it has been more difficult.

Regardless, our residents have transitioned in a respectful and gracious way with the assistance, care and compassion of the wonderful staff at Heaton Place.

Who are these people?

Who comes and spends their days working in a retirement home, especially when there is a pandemic occurring?

They are the ones who love to help others.

They are the ones who give more than they receive, not because they have to, but because they want to.

They are the ones that leave behind their families and loved ones each day to be with the Heaton Place family.

They are the staff of Heaton Place.

Together, we put our hearts and souls into finding ways we can enhance the lives of our residents each day and during this challenging time.

Having residents in isolation significantly limits the programs and services that can be provided. For example, most of our activities have been put on hold forcing us to improvise and rethink how we might deliver some normal programming for our residents while isolated.

Case in point, our residents enjoyed Fran, our activities co-ordinator, facilitating chair exercises to all suites via our security camera TV link.

Tuned in to their TVs, residents not only got in a daily dose of exercise but were hilariously entertained by Fran who was dressed in a mullet wig performing exercises to the tunes of Elvis Presley.

Fran, and in her absence Tracy (who adds her own flare of entertainment), have carried on the daily broadcast.

Another way we have looked to breaking the monotony, but respecting social distancing, has been with in-suite crafts. Staff deliver the necessary materials to residents’ suites and they create the crafts.

Last week, our residents created beautiful hearts.

This allowed them to connect with others through art.

Placed in their windows, they let the community know that they were OK and that they missed their friends, families and loved ones. It also let Armstrong know Heaton Place’s residents hoped the community was well.

Isolation eliminates the daily dining room experience for residents. Thus, we had to create our own form of Skip the Dishes.

Led by Julie, all the ladies in the kitchen, Rona, Vera, Joann, Erica, Joan, Emily, Nikki, Shania, Shelby and Brandi, have been baking, preparing meals, creating healthy snacks and refreshments that we hand deliver throughout the day.

Greg, our maintenance worker, and Corene, Judy, and Shawneen, our housekeeping staff, have worked very hard in keeping our environment both pleasant and safe.

Bev, our night shift worker, has been our evening guardian and Jan, our manager, has provided unwavering leadership and direction.

In short, we look after each other; protect each other and try to be a benefit to each other.

We are the residents, the staff and the management of Heaton Place.

— Carrie O’Neill is the resident relations co-ordinator at Heaton Place in Armstrong. These are the stories of its residents, staff and management team.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Armstrong delivers essentials and smiles

READ MORE: The healing power of storytelling and connection

READ MORE: Can’t take the farm outta the girl: Armstrong resident


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