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A collage of 3 pictures of staff engaging residents at Maplewood House and MSA Manor

Maplewood House and MSA Manor: A Strong Sense of Community While Keeping Covid at Bay

The latest stop in PointClickCare’s series on organizations showing leadership in response to the novel coronavirus takes us to Maplewood House and MSA Manor. Both located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and operated by Maplewood Care Society, the facilities offer long-term care and adult day programs. These valued, long-standing establishments in the community have made the most out of their adjustments in response to COVID-1, and are learning new lessons for the future.

Making Immediate Limitations and Adjustments Work

Emily Teillet, respite coordinator for Maplewood House, believes quick upfront action enabled her facility to avoid a coronavirus outbreak so far.

“We closed our building to visitors, except palliative care, on March 13, and stopped our adult day program. Residents must maintain at least two meters of separation from each other, and don’t share anything that’s high touch. We’ve gone to single-site employment for our staff, too.”  

Maplewood House’s Manager of Recreation and Adult Day Services Lisa Moore adds that recreation programs are more important than ever, but definitely aren’t business as usual.

“We’ve essentially restructured our department, to modify the types of programs we offer and how we deliver them. Zoom video conferences and FaceTime have become huge parts of our programming.”

Although one staff member at MSA Manor tested positive for COVID-19 in March, no residents have been infected. Bryan Robinson, manager of recreation and volunteer services at MSA Manor, says residents are confined to their “neighborhoods” for meals and activities. MSA has also changed its recreation program to address new resident needs.

“We’re focused on providing recreation for residents who have less stimulation, keeping them appeased to reduce agitation. Many of our residents feel the impact of isolation, so we’re easing that with video chats. We’re also doing shorter programs more often, with only one or two people.”

Lightening the Mood: Parades, Gardening, Window Meetings and Flash Mobs

With the improving weather, gardening has become a favorite pastime at both facilities. Emily and Lisa share some of the other activities that have lifted their residents’ spirits:

  • a family car parade with messages for the residents
  • greeting cards made from family emails
  • outdoor walks
  • a vintage car parade
  • window visits using mobile phones or tablets

According to Lisa, their version of a flash mob has cheered both residents and workers.

“We taught the residents the arm movements to the song, ‘YMCA.’ So when the song comes on our in-house music system, residents and staff drop everything and do all the movements together. It’s just a few minutes of utter joy and stress relief!”

Bryan reports that two new iPads have enabled MSA Manor to conduct multiple video chats at the same time. Residents able to handle them independently can talk to family members for as long as an hour.

“We’re seeing positive responses to the chats, with more structured conversation. Residents actually reminisce about the past in meaningful, productive conversations, and really connect with their loved ones.”

Maplewood House and MSA Manor didn’t forget their employees either. Management provided unlimited treats for the staff during the first two months of the lockdown, loading the refrigerators with drinks and fruit cups, and refilling the snack stations three times a day with nuts, chips and other grab-and-go foods. 

Communication is Key

How have the residents reacted to all these changes? Lisa says proactive communications have kept the residents up-to-date and calm, particularly as things change so quickly.

“We have a town hall meeting with residents every week, where they can ask questions and we pass along information. For example, we explained why the staff wore goggles at one point and now they’re not. These sessions help relieve resident concerns.”

Emily believes all their brainstorming and outreach have paid off, as the families are so grateful for everything being done to keep their loved ones safe and connected to them. They also appreciate being kept in the loop about what’s happening at Maplewood House and MSA Manor. 

Advice: Don’t Underestimate Your Audience

Emily suggests that LTC facilities might be amazed by how eagerly their residents try new things.

“I didn’t expect this age group to be responsive to all this technology, but they really are. So don’t be afraid to give them an iPad and let them explore it on their own. They’re much more capable than you think!”

Bryan recommends more one-on-one conversations, where residents feel comfortable about sharing personal details.

“We’re finding out about their interests, what they’re curious about, and then trying to help them ‘scratch that itch.’ Also, look for the things that appeal universally, like listening to music or just being outside in the sunshine.”

PointClickCare salutes Emily, Lisa, Bryan and all their colleagues at Maplewood House and MSA Manor, for maintaining a strong sense of community…even when residents are physically separated from each other and their families.

July 15, 2020