Can you believe it’s already April?! As spring arrives, we want to share how Tender Heart has changed over the last three months as restrictions and guidelines change within the ongoing fight against Covid-19. We are thankful our staff have stayed healthy and safe during this pandemic and we are so excited to announce we have returned to in-person sessions!
Looking back to the beginning of the pandemic, we like many others, had no idea we would still be experiencing this over a year later. Our team worked together to bring virtual sessions to life, creating fun, engaging activities that our group members could enjoy through tablets we dropped off before each session. In January 2021, we had 216 sessions virtually statewide. We also expanded our services to include individual therapy sessions for group members who wanted them. One group member, who took advantage of the individual opportunities recently shared, “seeing you is the best part of my week. It’s gotten me through this entire thing. I can’t see my family and friends, but knowing I will get to see you has made this less hard.”
As restrictions changed, our services did too; as we began offering in-person services again! This was not without its challenges, and our teams worked together to ensure we were healthy and safe for sessions. Every social worker is tested for Covid at least one time a week. Many of our staff members have been vaccinated or have appointments scheduled to do so. Masks and hand sanitizers have become our best friends! Activities have been planned to limit the amount of sharing between sessions and materials that are re-used are sanitized between groups. In March 2021, we had 520 sessions in-person and have been adding more sessions weekly!
|In Person Sessions|
Group members have been extremely excited to see us back in person! Our staff has seen the impact of the pandemic and isolation first hand on our group members: cognition has decreased, anxiety and depression has increased. Some of those experiencing symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s cannot recall the details of the pandemic but know their lives have changed. Facility staff members have shared the impact of our work upon our return to their buildings: one shared that “even after you ladies leave, our residents remain happy and upbeat!” Group members have explained how much it means for us to return, sharing “I wasn’t sure when the pandemic started, that you’d ever come back. I can’t explain what it means to me to see you again.” Even those who are struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s have shared the impact of our staff: “I can’t remember you but just seeing your face, I know everything will be okay. I can feel my body relaxing as soon as I saw you!”
We are extremely proud of how we, as a team, have handled this pandemic. Serving the hardest hit population of this pandemic is not an easy task but we understand how important it is. The loss of friends and family, the isolation and the change in routines have been devastating for our group members. As social workers, we work to help them process these emotions and re-engage them cognitively to lessen the impact for those experiencing dementia. Our supervisors, owners & administration team have become COVID coordinators, keeping up with the ever-changing policies and guidelines. We are thankful for our ability to adapt and continue bringing laughter, help and comfort to our group members.
Each quarter, our supervisors designate one employee who has gone above and beyond in helping serve our group members. This quarter, our employee of the month exemplified what it means to be an amazing social worker, teammate and employee. Over the last quarter, she has:
- Come up with great crafts ideas and activities that clients love! She is always trying to save money by purchasing items on sale or recycling materials from the office.
- Shown that she is dependable and that her teammates can count on her time and time again. She is flexible and adapts to situations easily, always having a back up project or activity ready if things change at the last minute.
- Demonstrated clinical, descriptive and thorough documentation. She works very hard to be error free each week.
- Went above and beyond for our clients! She will sing, dance, or even wear a unicorn hat for clients to toss rings at, always making the clients laugh and smile. When she went on vacation, her clients missed her very much and repeatedly asked where she was.
- Developed a great rapport with staff and activity directors at the facilities. She is always willing to track paperwork down and think of ways to improve and streamline the schedule.
- Volunteered to work one Friday a month with the Grand Blanc team for additional support and is always willing to help out with coverage. She recently covered for the East team, which is an hour one way from her home.
- And last but not least, she is kind, considerate, and empathetic to everyone around her. She is a social worker through and through. She cares about the clients we serve, being a team player and truly believes in the work that Tender Heart does.
Congratulations Shayna! Tender Heart is so lucky to have you!