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South Jordan Journal

How this South Jordan senior community is keeping spirits up during the pandemic

Jun 08, 2020 11:35AM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

Family of Lyneve Kramer come to give her an encouraging message. (Photo provided by Sagewood at Daybreak Senior Community.)

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected]

Nurses at a South Jordan Senior Community are providing creative ways to keep morale up during the pandemic. The nursing team at Sagewood at Daybreak is increasing its focus on mental health.

"Our nurses are Rock-stars!" said Sagewood at Daybreak Executive Director Wade Vest . "They've been creative and innovative in keeping the mental and physical health of our residents up." 

The staff encourages members to interact, which helps their emotional well-being, and the challenge is to do this safely. The nurses and their certified nursing assistants have been exploring new ways of addressing resident's needs, Vest said. Instead of meeting in a big room, staff members deliver ice cream door to door with ice cream truck music playing. Food is no longer served in the dining hall. Meals are delivered to each resident's room. Center officials also switched exercise classes from in-person to online. 

Sagewood's nursing team has created new ways for families to interact with their loved ones. Visitors can no longer mingle with the residents. Family members are limited to window visits. New benches are placed outside the visiting room areas so families can see through the window and talk on their phones. A bucket pully system is in place, and items and cards go up to the resident's balconies. The sidewalks in the courtyard have chalk art families have designed. 

The staff also helps residents connect online by showing them how to load apps onto phones and IPADS. Families email photos for the residents. 

Another popular event is the outdoor concerts where residents can listen from their balconies to live music performed in the courtyard. 

"It really brightens everyone's day, and they want to 'cut a rug,'" said Assisted Living Director Soni Johnson, also a registered nurse . "Music makes such a big difference."

Johnson has worked in home health for 20 years and enjoys working at Sagewood. The nurses also communicate through the internal channel 6 with news, updates and prompts to remind residents to write in a journal.

"We invite them to think back to better times,” Johnson said. “It's so fun getting to know them better. We've got such a variety of people here: CEOs, nurses, ex-football players and many more." 

 Another step in keeping mental health high during trying times is to assign a friend who checks on each resident. These friends fill in the gaps when family members can't visit as closely as before. The friend focuses on what simple things can raise residents' moods, like getting out in the sunshine, visiting the in-house hair salon or enjoying a favorite drink. The friend also helps residents find a new purpose or hobby. Some of the people have discovered they enjoy photography, rock-hounding, painting and more.

The friends and nursing team make recommendations if a resident needs to talk to a social worker, chaplain or have a telehealth call with a mental health professional. 

"Being a nurse and working in a senior living community, I get to be proactive in our residents' care,” said Johnson. “It gives me an advantage when it comes to our residents. Getting the privilege to work with our residents every day, I get to be their eyes and ears to make sure they're staying healthy. By living at a community like Sagewood, our residents can age in place, and we're with them for the long haul."

Resident Care Coordinator Rachel Wohlford is a licensed practical nurse. She has also worked in pediatrics and hospital settings. Wohlford wanted to be a nurse since childhood and helped care for her grandparents as they aged. 

"I love working with seniors; they're so much fun, and we have so much to learn from them,” she said. “It's like having a bunch of grandparents. I have one resident who's been my positive light through this all, and that helps remind me we will get through this. It's important to have nurses in senior living communities because we can provide in-depth assessments and have that extra knowledge. Our level of care is also possible due to our certified nursing assistants; they help keep us running like a well-oiled machine."

Sagewood will also have a special graduation celebration for our staff who are graduating seniors from area high schools.

"As guidelines are being softened throughout the state, we still need to be more cautious with our vulnerable people," Vest said. "We want to do what we can to maintain a sense of normalcy for our residents."