Missoula senior living facility finds ways to endure COVID-19 isolation

Posted at 10:12 AM, Jun 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-21 12:12:00-04

You’ve heard the stories of COVID-19 sweeping through nursing homes and senior living facilities, posing a major threat to our community’s most vulnerable members.

But one local senior living facility is saying their residents are healthy, their staff is healthy, and they’re ready to get back into the swing of things.

Montana is reopening, and for most, even a walk downtown is helping regain some sense of normalcy. But while most of us are moving on, one population is still stuck at home.

"We're restless. We're restless, we are ready to get out and enjoy the Montana sunshine and all that this state has to offer," Springs Living acting chief operating officer Brenda Connelly said.

Under Gov. Steve Bullock’s Phase 2 guidelines, senior living facilities still aren’t allowed visitors and vulnerable populations are encouraged to stay home.

Connelly says her facility is home to 150 members of that vulnerable population.

"There is certain, you know, depression and physical mobility changes, we certainly can see some cognitive changes happen," Connelly said.

Isolation can really take a toll. Knowing this, Connelly’s team has upped their game to ensure their residents are staying positive.

"What our staff has worked really hard to do is connect families in different ways, safely," Connelly said. "We've done that certainly through the virtual means, you know, Zoom and Skype and others."

"But we have built structures called the looking glass, and they’re actually plexiglass frame structures where the family can sit on one side, and then their loved one can sit on the other one and they can connect that way."

Mix in some Nerf gun fights, hallway bowling, and a socially distanced happy hour, and you’ve got the recipe for a pandemic paradise.

"It's been a lot of fun to watch our staff flourish during this time," Connelly said.

They’ve been able to implement all of these activities with ease as neither their staff nor their residents have contracted coronavirus.

"We know that if it were to come in, it's probably going to come in from the outside," Connelly said. "And so we turned a lot of our attention to taking great care of our staff and educating them."

Springs Living is currently working with the governor’s office to open up visitation restrictions. They’re determined to advocate on behalf of their residents to be able to have those daily connections again.

By taking action early, following protocol, and thinking out of the box, the Springs Living has put their residents in the best position right now, and for phases to come.

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