The participants in the county’s Adult Day Health Care program may not have been able to enjoy one another’s company in person recently, but programming has continued virtually during the past few months.
“We knew that we needed to do what we could to keep our participants connected,” said Ingrid Parkhurst, center nurse coordinator, Mount Vernon Adult Day Health Care. “So, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work right away to figure out ideas to make this work in the virtual world.”
The Fairfax County Health Department operates four Adult Day Health Care Centers for older adults who no longer have the capacity for complete independence. On a typical day in any center, upwards of 30 participants congregate together for physical, cognitive and social activities led by staff.
Like many things, the pandemic caused the service to temporarily close its doors and for staff rethink the way they can connect with participants.
It started with meal delivery. Staff safely delivered meals through its congregate meal program to participants. Staff had the opportunity for socially distanced visits with participants, waving hello and letting them know they are loved and missed.
In the meantime, the Adult Day team’s recreational therapists planned a series of virtual programs to bring people together.
“Our participants are not from a tech generation. They really get a kick out of our ability to see and talk to one another. Simple conversation goes a long way in helping the cognitive function of older adults, so this has helped us keep them engaged,” said Alexa Arnold, recreation therapist, Lincolnia Adult Day Health Care. Games like bingo and “lunch bunch” were enjoyed.
Drive-thru events were added to celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other events. Participants and their caregivers ‘drive through’ for a safe and socially distanced visit.
The team also created special programs for caregivers exclusively. “Caregiving in a non-pandemic scenario can be very challenging. Now, with the pandemic, everyone is quarantined at home and there is no where to go to take a breather. It has been extremely stressful,” Leah Freij. The team created weekly caregiving meetings, so people could get together virtually and talk.
The virtual programs offered by Adult Day Health Care are free of charge and available to everyone. The calendar is posted on the Virtual Center for Active Adults website. See "Adult Day Health Care Presents" for our activities.