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Lisa Leatherwood heart of PointClickCare banner

Overcoming a Year of Uncertainty

As we close out our celebrations for Nurses Month, we wanted to turn your attention to an inspiring story from our customer Lisa Leatherwood of Silver Bluff facility.

Four generations of Leatherwoods

As the Administrator at Silver Bluff, Lisa Leatherwood is an influential part of the facility, but what some might not know is that her family has actually owned and operated that facility since 1962! “My grandparents started the business and in the following years, my parents took over and then most recently my husband and I took over. As a nurse for over 30 years with a master’s degree in geriatric nursing, it was an easy fit for me. My daughter also recently took our nursing assistant training as well and is preparing to become a nurse one day. It’s amazing to see the business stay in our family. Four generations later, we’re still going strong, and I still love what I do.”

Coming together to overcome COVID-19

Like many facilities, Sliver Bluff faced a difficult time during the pandemic. They had their first outbreak in July and at that point they didn’t have enough PPE, couldn’t get N95’s, and COVID-19 testing was taking 7-10 days. As Lisa described it, “it was really just a perfect storm of events unfolding. 60% of our residents and staff had no symptoms which made it difficult to track within the facility. We were really behind, and it took us 2 months to get it under control. But what was amazing was we learned from that experience and the next time we had an outbreak; we were in a much better situation and it took us under 2 weeks to get it under control. Another interesting outcome was that the pandemic called out some staff members who weren’t committed and showed that their job just wasn’t the right fit for them. But even more so, it really shined a light on those amazing individuals who are truly passionate about their jobs and showed them for the rock stars they are. ”

Lisa accredits their success to their open and honest approach. “We took an approach to COVID-19 that no other facility in the county did, and that was a firm stance on being completely transparent. We communicated with the families before it happened and made sure they knew exactly what to expect in the event of an outbreak. We were honest about how many cases we had, what we were doing about it, and we received a lot of support from our community because of that.”

A good neighbour is always there

Throughout the pandemic, community support and participation were essential. “We had people showing up almost every day. They would drop off snacks or drinks for the staff, homemade cards for the residents, boxed lunches for 100% of the staff from several different restaurants in the area. It was just an amazing sense of support from everyone.”

From July to October, Silver Bluff was under immense pressures with COVID-19 outbreaks and staff were working around the clock to ensure the residents were cared for. “At the beginning, we had some staff leave because they were immunocompromised and concerned for their health which meant the remaining staff had to take on even more responsibilities. A lot of us were there 16 hours a day for 21 days straight, and it was incredibly draining. Our staff had little time to themselves. But we were able to get through it by relying on each other and the community. We had food deliveries the entire time and we even had some of the local churches get together and bring canvas bags full of fruit, candy, gum, candles, and gift cards for all of our staff members to thank them for all their hard work.”

Resident and staff engagement

When it came to the residents, Lisa said that all things considered, they did remarkably well.  “Maybe that’s because they are older, and they are used to sacrificing things and have lived through times of uncertainty before. But the residents were amazing throughout the pandemic.” She admits that her team did have to think outside the box a lot for new ways to engage them with the restrictions in place. “One thing we did was we started using our internal tv channel no one ever used. We had a lot of people that would show up and perform music in front of the building, and we would videotape that and put it on the channel so that they could see the overwhelming support they had from the community.”

They also started doing a lot more crafts and even started having a regular a movie day. “We would select a movie and put it on the internal channels and the staff would go room to room and hand out bags of popcorn to the residents and then they would all watch together. We also did hall bingo and lots of different crafts with the residents. It was hard because they were essentially stuck in their rooms for about a year. We wanted to do everything we could to make that a little better for them.”

Celebrating a new year

As we start to turn a corner in the pandemic, vaccines have helped Silver Bluff start to get back to a new normal.  “Thankfully 80% of our staff have now been vaccinated. For those who were hesitant, I had an open-door policy and I encouraged each of them to come and talk to me about their concerns and I think that’s the reason we had such a positive response to the vaccines. For the residents, in our three buildings we have a varied number of residents vaccinated, the lowest being 75% and the highest being 96%. After the year we had, it has been really nice to get the residents together again for social activities.” To make up for lost time, and in celebration of Nursing Home Week, Silver Bluff decided to run a week-long event where each day of the week, Monday-Thursday, a different season was celebrated.  “The residents participated by making things for each season and we decorated the entire facility for the event. The dietary team made food that went along with that season, and the activities team planned seasonal activities for the residents as well. Then on the Friday we had a New Year’s Eve party with mocktails and decorations to celebrate the year being over! It was the perfect way to celebrate overcoming the past year.”

May 28, 2021