In order to protect one of the most vulnerable populations from contracting the respiratory virus, visitation has been restricted at these facilities since early March, which means residents haven’t been able to see their loved ones.
Peggy Daniels will celebrate her 84th birthday on April 18 , but her daughter Lisa Stevens won’t be able to celebrate with her at Silver Bluff Village in Canton.
“We used to visit as much as four times a week between my sister and I, but we don’t visit at all now,” Stevens said. “We send gifts and talk on the phone and get updates from various staff on her condition. Tracy is the NP there and does a wonderful job of keeping us informed.”
Daniels, a resident at Silver Bluff for two years, has two types of dementia. Fortunately, Stevens said her mother still understands a lot of what she sees on the news and understands why her daughters can’t visit her right now.
“I am grateful for that,” Stevens said, knowing that some other residents aren’t able to comprehend what is going on in the world right now.
Stevens is also grateful to Silver Bluff and its staff for making this difficult time as joyful as they can for residents. Silver Bluff started a social media campaign of sorts a few weeks ago where staff started posting pictures of residents on Facebook holding signs with various messages. A photo of Daniels holding a sign that read, “Send more cookies,” was posted to Facebook and ended up going viral throughout the county.
“Well it went crazy with shares and comments and ended up on a local county group of people helping each other through the virus crisis,” Stevens said. “As a result, people are sending cookies and a big organized delivery that includes Buttered Biscuit and Kandi’s bakery is happening tomorrow.”
Kandi’s Bakery and Buttered Biscuit (right) were just two businesses that dropped off cookies for residents at Silver Bluff Village. Donated photo
Her mom’s picture was even seen by a woman in California whose friend used to work at Silver Bluff and had since passed away. The woman is sending cookies in memory of her friend.
“(Mom) absolutely loves the cookie drop-offs and pretty much thinks it’s all because of her so she’s proud of that,” Stevens said. “It’s really hard not to visit, but the hardest thing to think about is an outbreak of the virus in the home and the possibility of her or any of the residents dying without a last visit. That’s really what keeps me up at night.”
Silver Bluff Administrator Lisa Leatherwood said she was so appreciative of her staff for coming up with innovative ways to keep their residents in good spirits during this difficult time and also for the residents, who’ve been understanding of the visitation restrictions.
“They understand hard times and they understand sacrifice, which is why I think they’ve done so well during this,” she said. “I also appreciate our staff — they’ve shown up for work and taken on the call because they know how much the residents need them.”
The idea to post pictures of residents with signs came about after some residents were still having a hard time communicating through phone calls and video conferencing. They let residents start making their own signs. One resident — someone who never misses a Pisgah home football game — shared a sign saying, “This better be over with by football season.” Another resident who was so tickled about the toilet paper shortage shared a sign that read, “Three rolls of toilet paper for $19.99.”
“We were telling them about the toilet paper shortage and that just blew their minds — they couldn’t understand why people were buying all the toilet paper up. They laughed for two days about it,” Leatherwood said.
Silver Bluff is also doing window visits for residents while maintaining social distancing. Thanks to Waynesville Elks Lodge, residents also got a visit from the Easter Bunny last weekend. Leatherwood said Silver Bluff usually hosts an Easter egg hunt for residents’ grandchildren so just having the visit from the Bunny created some sense of normalcy for them.
Leatherwood is also encouraging a “senior to senior” pen pal program to get high school or college seniors to write to the residents during the shelter in place order. For more information about how to make a delivery or to write a letter, call 828.648.2044.