I know there are tons of memes floating around about how long the month of April’s felt, but truthfully, it’s flown by for us. Having been on lockdown for 7 full weeks, we’ve settled into a new normal – it’s a heartbreaking, scary, never-ending punch to the gut normal, but normal nonetheless. We’ve got it down to a science: meals and activities in apartments, weekly update calls to families, Friday hallway meetings, and alllllll the PPE. All things considered, we’re doing okay: less than 5% of our residents have tested positive (*knocks on wood*) and only one employee’s been sick. We’re working our butts off and doing everything in our power to keep corona out.
Behind closed doors (as in, the doors of my Civic where I sob on the ride home), it’s been a rollercoaster. Managing a senior living community during this pandemic requires an emotional balancing act:
- Fear vs. Courage: Fear isn’t exactly motivating and leading with it does not empower others. It also disrupts our ability to think rationally. As terrified as we are every single day, from the moment we step foot in the community, we put up a brave front. We comfort residents (& each other!) and foster hope. Business is carried on as usual – with dignity and love – regardless of exposure.
- Failure vs. Success: We’ve had three positive residents. In comparison to nearby facilities who’ve reported over 100, we’re killing it (no pun intended). But the truth is, even one is too many – one is enough to make you feel like you’re a total failure. It’s nothing short of devastating and is impossible to not take personally.
- Denial vs. Acceptance: When we got the call about our first case, the local health department assured me it was never a matter of IF – it was WHEN. In my heart, I know that’s true; COVID is spreading among our elderly population like wildfire. That doesn’t make it any easier of a pill to swallow. Every day, I ask myself how it could’ve happened – we have no sick team members! We screen employees before they walk through the door! Residents haven’t left their apartments in over a month. HOW?!
- Physical Safety vs. Emotional Wellbeing: God, this one’s tough. I truly believe we’ve kept ~95% of our residents COVID-free because of the extreme precautions we’ve taken. We were one of the first to lock down and have been sporting our N95s since March (long before we were advised to). I know we’re doing what’s necessary to keep my loves physically healthy, but what about emotionally? I’m notorious for weak moments and ridiculous ideas: this week, I’m seriously considering roping off our front porch and sneaking them out a side door so they can feel the sun and get a whiff of spring. They need it so badly.
We may not be able to get back to our old normal anytime soon, but I’m certainly over this one. Here’s to hoping May brings good health, joyful reunions, and some emotional stability.