“Necessity is the mother of invention” is an expression that means that if you really need to do something, you will think of a way of doing it. That is exactly what happened at Parkview Nursing and Rehab in Pikeville, Kentucky. 

The Covid-19 pandemic challenged the care center with a new policy that prevented families from visiting their loved ones. Because the majority of residents at Parkview usually see friends and family each day, the new policy created a major obstacle. One family member suggested in jest, “That’s okay, I’ll come and look at my mom through her window.” That comment soon became helpful to all of the residents at Parkview.

Now, Parkview staff is regularly scheduling family visits through a lobby window in the building. “It’s so emotional to watch them,” said Parkview’s Executive Director Lanna Roberts, when describing the visits. “People on both sides of the window cry with tears of joy, both the family and the residents,” said Lanna. The staff at Parkview love to take the residents to the window to see family and friends. The visitors and residents often use a telephone to communicate during the visit. Pikeville is a very close-knit community, and word of the emotional visits spread quickly. For that reason, more and more visitors are scheduling their chance to visit through the window. After each visit, housekeeping sanitizes both sides of the window out of an abundance of caution.

The  special window get-togethers are not the only way Parkview is adjusting to the new limitations on visiting. Parkview is using social media to facilitate communications between residents and their loved ones who might live too far away for a window visit. Residents are writing messages on a white board, and staff is taking photos of the residents holding their messages. The photos are being shared on a special social media page, where families are thrilled to see their parents or grandparents online. Staff is also calling families every other day to give updates. The staff member might just say, “I saw your mother today and she seemed to really be enjoying her breakfast.” These little details go a long way to help family members get through this unusual time of separation.

Before the visiting restrictions were implemented, friends and family regularly brought special store-bought favorites to the residents. Now, the activities department goes to the grocery store once per week to buy treats for the patients. Residents can put in orders for whatever they would like from the store, and activities staff will fulfill the orders!

There’s an additional activity that’s in the works at Parkview, and everyone is very excited. The care center is just waiting for a nice warm day to implement the idea. They are planning to host a church service outside the care center where congregants, the preacher, and Parkview residents will all be able to participate while maintaining the required distance between individuals! Parkview’s spacious parking lot will be the location for the service where congregants will stay in their cars and listen to the preacher who will be speaking on a microphone. Residents will be spread out on the care center balconies to listen to the service too. It’s going to be a beautiful way to solve the physical distancing challenge of COVID-19.

Lanna Roberts gives all of the credit for the innovative programming to “the wonderful staff, working together.” Parkview’s creative solutions can serve as an inspiration to others dealing with similar challenges. We can’t wait to see what they will come up with next!

You can read more about Parkview’s innovative visits in this article, published by the Appalachian News-Express on March 24, 2020.

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