It has been a long, weary year of isolation for our residents and staff. For most of the year, there have been no group activities. We closed our dining room on March 16, 2020, and residents have received all their meals in their rooms. We ended trips to the grocery store and sightseeing and going to the casino. We stopped our exercise and social programs and activities. We closed our community to all visitors.
We tried to find ways to lighten our residents’ days. We created games they could play from their rooms. We hung surprise treats on their doors every Wednesday from March to June — things like toilet paper & a joke, Cracker Jacks for a baseball season that wouldn’t happen, notecards to keep in touch, flowers to brighten the day. On Fridays, staff came down the halls with ice cream while playing the iconic Ice Cream Truck song on their cell phones.
We have made it this far with only a few residents exposed to the virus while in rehab facilities, who then recovered before returning to Northaven Independent Living; two Assisted Living residents tested positive and developed minor symptoms early in the process. They were sent to the hospital and returned in good health.
We celebrated two babies and a wedding among our staff, reminding us of the resilience and joy to be found in our lives in spite of a year of sheltering in place.
In February, almost all of our residents and staff members were vaccinated. Now we are beginning to look at ways to open up a bit and begin to reintroduce activities. We will start serving breakfast in the dining room by appointment with only six residents allowed per seating. We will begin holding exercise classes with a limited number of residents spaced appropriately. In one of the most important steps, we are letting residents receive one outside guest at a time, as long as they can present their vaccination card. And residents can begin to gather in groups of three to visit each other in their apartments or five in the Library. Seeing sons and daughters coming in again, proudly brandishing their vaccine cards and eager to be with their parents is giving great joy to our staff.
What I am looking forward to as we open up is having the building looking inviting and homey. The OV room to be open for small social groups. Resuming groups for social interaction and enrichment. And meeting and getting to know each of the new residents who joined our community in the past year.
I am looking forward to eating again in our Dining Room and gathering together in the OV and Harbor Rooms to hear discussions about timely topics and speakers who visit us. Also, I will be glad to be able to attend Technology Committee meetings where our Northaven experts help us perfect our management of these challenging digital devices. Another thing I eagerly await is our bus trips to the Lake City Farmer’s Market to get farm fresh raspberries, blueberries and peaches. Yum! Yum! Lastly, hugs!
I love living at Northaven ... even when we have a difficult year and last year does qualify!! It has been a challenge for our fabulous staff and for all of us… we are still standing. What I am looking forward to now is how our outdoor gardens and green spaces are going to shape up when the construction is all finished. I loved to spend time in our rose garden and enjoyed the diversity of the residents’ personal planting barrels. Having a comfortable outdoor area to spend time in during all four seasons is healthy and fun for socializing or for quiet contemplation. Soon I hope we can all stop to smell the roses in our new outdoor landscaping.
I’ve been a resident of Northaven since August 2020. The residents and staff are supportive and friendly and I enjoy living here, even with the necessary COVID restrictions. I enjoy reading the weekly newsletter and have learned about the bus trips and other social activities that the residences enjoyed before the COVID pandemic. I’m looking forward to being able to be a part of those once they can resume. I appreciate the evening “room service” meals that the kitchen staff bring me, but I’m also looking forward to being able to finally “break bread” person to person with my neighbors in our community dining room. Northaven is beginning to feel like home.