This week, in-person visitations began on the Deutsches Altenheim campus with resounding success! Fortunately, the weather cooperated as the visits were scheduled to take place in outdoor spaces per the directives we received from the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health (DPH) and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA).
After two and half months of visitor restrictions, families clamored to schedule their visits. When the moment finally arrived, masked smiles filled the area. Physical contact (including hugs) is not allowed, and was difficult for some, as you might imagine. It’s true what they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
At both German Centre and Edelweiss Village, we are making the necessary adjustments to staff schedules to accommodate the visits. From all appearances, the staff might be as excited as the residents for these visits. While there may be a few tweaks to the plan, we are off to a great start.
We are all experiencing challenges and uncertainty with pandemic hardships and civil unrest. Our staff is certainly not immune to any of this. Deutsches Altenheim has always prided itself on its family-centered philosophy. As a way to support the staff, and to enable them to share their journey over the past few months, we organized a Unity Gathering. Staff joined together on our beautiful front lawn to sing, reflect, pray and support one another.
We’re thankful to the team from Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, one of our hospice providers, who joined in the gathering to lend emotional and spiritual support, and lead us in song. During an especially poignant moment, the group “took a knee” in solidarity with the racial struggles we are witnessing. Emotions came to a peak as Mary Ellen Walsh, our Director of Social Services, recited the names of residents who have passed since the pandemic began. The gathering was sobering but also uplifting. Together we acknowledged our grief, renewed promises to support each other, and shared hope for the future.
Every day, I arrive at work prepared to focus on the safety and well-being of the seniors in our care. During the Unity Gathering, I was also reminded of our commitment to staff. They are caretakers, certainly. But, they also become surrogate family to residents – and to each other. Sometimes it takes a crisis to clearly see the most important things in life.
Thank you for taking time to keep up with our updates. I hope they give you some sense of life on our campus during the pandemic, which has been very much like riding a roller coaster with all its twists and turns. I’m hopeful that ride is nearing its end.
Be well and stay safe,
Chief Executive Officer