One of the many important ways we make an impact in the everyday lives of our residents is through day services. Day services include programs and activities that provide meaningful opportunities designed to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) entrusted in our care. In response to COVID-19, GoodLife quickly created a response plan to deliver care from a safe distance to help prevent the spread of the virus across our residential homes, day centers, and within our nursing and behavioral support services. That plan included adapting how we bring day services to our residents and families in a safe and engaging environment through in-home and center-based services.
Typically, individuals that live in GoodLife residential homes would visit our centers for health and recreation programs, daily-living skills classes, and other activities. Since COVID-19, residents stay in their homes to adhere to social-distancing orders. In typical GoodLife fashion, our staff is creatively innovating to make sure residents don’t miss a beat.
“Since residents can’t come to day services, day services now come to them,” says Melba Wright, Director of Northeast Kansas Day and Work Services. The day-services team creates a weekly schedule for residents that includes art and music classes, exercise, hands-on activities like making a birdhouse or cooking, interactive games, and more. Then each day, home coaches deliver activity kits that contain everything needed to participate in the chosen activities. iLink technology is also used to take residents on virtual tours of theme parks and museums and to allow them to attend various online classes.
“It’s important to us that residents continue to feel connected to their GoodLife community even though we aren’t able to physically be together like we were before the coronavirus,” shares Melba. “I send an email every morning to say hello and share the day’s activities. It helps them know we’re still here, we’re family, and we care.”
As restrictions are lifted throughout the region, the day-services team will slowly expand activities to include outdoor outings that allow for safe social distancing, like visits to parks or Midnight Farm. Each home would sign up for a time to visit the farm, where residents can drive golf carts, work in the garden, play music in the amphitheater, or spend time on the turf in the arena.
Since stay-at-home orders have lifted, GoodLife’s non-residential community members visit our centers for day services. Through open and direct communication with parents and guardians, we request that families inform us about out-of-town travel, attendance at large gatherings, or if they think they have been exposed to the virus. We trust that everyone attending center-based day services is—to the best of their knowledge—healthy and symptom-free. Our staff utilizes our well-established technology to engage with families through online calls, meetings, and virtual activities like theme park tours, rollercoaster rides, and more.
GoodLife is taking additional precautions and implementing social-distancing strategies to prevent exposure at each service site. We cap site capacity at 15 people, check and record everyone’s temperature upon arrival, and encourage each day-services participant to wear gloves and masks. GoodLife staff is required to wear a mask.
“GoodLife’s established technology has been so helpful during this time,” shares Melba. “We are able to remotely monitor our men and women during activities to remind them to practice social distancing, wash their hands, and teach them how to stay safe and healthy.”
Outings for center-based services are paused for the time being. “It’s summertime, and kids are out of school, which means as restrictions lift, public places will be crowded,” says Mebla. “To keep our community safe, we are going to hold off on outings until schools are back in session to give our individuals more space to safely enjoy reintegration.”
Prepared for the future
GoodLife works hard to anticipate the ever-changing needs of our residents and families. When it comes to COVID-19, we do not know what the fall and winter months will bring. The community we serve responded incredibly well to the day-services program adjustments, and we have developed new tools we can use long into the future. For example, the activity kits and virtual tours bring so much joy to our residential homes, they will be available to home coaches from now on.
Not only are the changes in day services reassuring for residents and families, but GoodLife staff feel safe and supported, as well. As we learn more about the coronavirus and look to local and national leaders for guidance in the days ahead, it is critical that we adapt to ensure our staff remains highly protected so we can continue to provide quality care in our homes and programs.
Interested in learning more? Check out GoodLife’s four models of day services.