AVON, Ohio — Nursing homes have been a heavy focus during the coronavirus pandemic, and while staff and administrators are working overtime to keep their residents safe, isolation from their family members can also leave residents feeling lonely and depressed.
Benjamin Massaro, the administrator of St. Mary of the Woods, a nursing facility in Avon, said morale was low when the pandemic first began.
“It started with a lot of fear, especially when we had to secure our property at the very beginning of March,” he said.
Massaro said it has been a team effort to make sure everyone stayed connected, not only to new information regarding the virus, but to each other.
“We rely on our family members to advocate for their loved ones and they are not able to come in and do that. Our residents rely on their family members to come and visit with them, they’re not allowed to do that,” he said.
While their residents are inside, St. Mary of the Woods has dedicated a lot of their time to morale boosters.
“We’ve chosen to focus on what we can control, not necessarily what we can’t.”
The event schedule is filled with activities that aim to bring smiles to their resident's faces.
For Earth Day, the staff created a traveling rain forest for the residents and they planted grass and wildflowers together.
Another day was dedicated to the 1980s, where staff played 80ss music, dawned leg warmers and teased hair.
Another day ‘Our Little World Alpacas’ paraded alpacas around the facility.
Family, friends and staff of the residents held a Mother’s Day and Easter parade.
The staff also hosted a Bon Voyage Party and tropical themed week for the residents.
Massaro said staff members feel an extra burden of responsibility to keep morale high.
“This is the first time in these folks lives, and many of our residents are in their nineties, we have some that are more than 100 years-old, this is the longest time in their lives they have not been able to see their loved ones,” he said.
While there are no confirmed coronaviruses cases at St. Mary of the Woods, Massaro said they will continue to take every precaution needed while also thinking of ways to keep residents, staff and family members connected.
“There is a genuine interest, even more than usual, in each other,” he said. “It really is amazing.”