At the beginning of the pandemic when there was little information surrounding Covid-19 everything was on lockdown. All staff that had to have personal interactions with residents were required to wear full personal protective equipment. Most nursing homes have sets of personal protective equipment because of influenza outbreaks however there were not nearly enough for every server. As such most of the time certified nursing assistants or nurses themselves had to deliver meals for the residents. For their own safety, every resident had to stay in their apartments for weeks which lead to many being quite cooped up. Luckily, this seemed to have helped quite a bit even though many of the staff including myself have gotten covid-19 there were almost no covid cases within the residents. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of many of the resident’s mental health. During the lockdown there were no activities and no open dining so many of the residents only social interactions throughout the day were the nurses and CNA’s assisting them. For some there were outside visits from family members and friends, but this was not true for all. Also, of the families that did visit there were a lot of limitations. For example, to even get into the building you need to have a temperature less than 100.4 and you had to fill out a form full of questions like if you had left the country or state within the last 14 days.
The lockdown was eventually partially lifted because there was a significant decrease in the number of residents and staff who had contracted the illness. During this time there was still no activities however there were most visits from families due to a less limitations. If a family member had a fever they still were not allowed to visit similarly if a resident had a fever no one could visit them either. During this time servers had to deliver to go meals to rooms. Servers had to wear droplet protection shields either as glasses or full-face masks however the disposable gown was not required. It was during this time that I got to speak with many of the residents there to get their experience of the covid-19 pandemic. The biggest part of their life that had changed was being able to socialize and visit their friends. For many of us during the pandemic we can text or call our friends and family, so we remain connected. While there are many residents who can call their family, some are not able to because of hearing disabilities. Others are unable to simply because they do not know how to use modern phones. This disconnect is similar in a lot of ways to the digital divide as described by Linda Poon, across the U.S. though the mechanism stopping people from using technology is different. For many Americans, the mechanism stopping them from using the internet is either economic restraint or infrastructural restraint. For many they simply are not able to pay for either the bandwidth or the devices. In other cases, the areas in which they live limit their internet accessibility. For internet providers they want to get the best product to the most people to make a profit. As such there are some areas that are not worth investing as much to improve service because there is a lack of consumers. This situation relates more closely with residents in assisted living facilities. The internet speed in these places is slow because outside of the pandemic there was not a demand for faster internet speed. Most of the residents do not usually use the internet it was not until this time of crisis that there was suddenly a demand. The other issue is with knowledge. Unfortunately, there are not very many IT’s on staff who can answer every resident’s question and help them connect. As such it usually becomes the burden of the family to help the residents. There are a few exceptions especially in the assisted living side where there are programs set up to help residents.
Now most things are back to the way they were before the pandemic. There is open dining where residents can socialize with each other and there are activities for the residents although they are all within the building. Everyone still must wear masks obviously and as a dining establishment the same rules for every other restaurant apply as well. One thing that I have noticed that has not gone back to normal is that many residents had part time jobs before the pandemic. Now there are almost none who are working. This could be at least in part explained by an article by Laura Bliss and Sarah Holder which describes how businesses are switching to a work from anywhere model. Many businesses are switching to a model where employees do not need to work in an office everyday and can instead work from home. For most of us this sounds like a great thing who wants to go to work in a cubicle for 8 hours every day. Unfortunately for residents they are not technologically able to keep up with this new model. Of the residents whose jobs do require them to go to work many are just trying to reduce their exposure. In the pass there were services set up to take them to work if they could not get there themselves. These may not come back after the pandemic has ended. One thing that has remained the same throughout the pandemic is anything medically related. Residents still need to go to the doctor to get checkups or treatments. Unfortunately, telemedicine as described in an article about hospitals post pandemic by James S. Russell is not a real possibility at these nursing homes. As mentioned before many residents are not able to access the internet or if they are, they cannot do it very well. Because of that residents still need to go out to the doctor occasionally. There are nurses on staff, but they cannot do everything. This may not seem like a big deal however with how hospitals have been starved for resources during the pandemic the greatest risk of exposure for residents is at these hospitals.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-12/what-will-remote-work-do-to-salesforce-tower?srnd=citylab by Laura Bliss and Sarah Holder