How do you keep residents in a long-term care center connected with the outside world during a pandemic? That’s the question Scott Allen and his activities director were trying to answer. Allen, the executive director of Fletcher Health and Rehabilitation Center in Tampa, Florida wanted a way for the public to reach out and “touch” the Fletcher residents during social distancing.

He decided to ask his personal network of friends and family to help out. First, he sent a Facebook message to his neighborhood group. He asked the group to mail letters to the Fletcher residents. Taking this first simple step snowballed, and yielded over 600 letters so far, with more arriving each day. Evidently, everyone is looking for a way to stay connected, and the need for letters was shared with friends across the country.

Responses came from far and wide, and people have gotten creative with their ideas for staying in touch with the residents. Students from a class in New York City even made a video to share with the residents! The outpouring of love continues weeks after Allen’s initial request. A group of girl scouts from New Jersey adopted the building and sent adult coloring books, markers, and magazines to entertain the residents. One woman and her sister created blank handmade greeting cards that residents and patients could use to send messages to their own families and friends. When letters and drawings are received by the Fletcher staff, they are printed in color and distributed amongst the residents. Each resident has personally received several communications, and penpal relationships have been initiated.

Protecting Fletcher’s vulnerable population is the first priority for the staff. And, while it’s challenging enough to focus on new regulations and the acquisition of personal protective equipment, Allen emphasized that the psychosocial needs of the residents are also paramount to their wellbeing. The staff at Fletcher continues to come up with innovative ideas to help the residents and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

See Tampa nursing and rehab facility flooded with greeting cards to learn more about Fletcher’s influx of support.

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