Heartland Hospice Team Gets Creative to Continue Providing Care During Pandemic
The team at Heartland Hospice serving Fairview Heights wanted to continue providing their caring services during the novel coronavirus. They had to come up with unique ways to stay connected with their patients, family members and facility staff while abiding to visitor restrictions:
Carla Graves, a Heartland therapy volunteer, contacted local facilities to request permission for her and her therapy dogs, Spirit and Liberty, to have window visits with their patients. Carla, Spirit and Liberty have always been popular visitors with patients. They’re so popular, that even when showing up outside a window for a visit, the Heartland patients recognized them immediately! “I got the idea from Facebook of relatives visiting family members through their windows to communicate. We had not been able to go on any visits for almost a month and Spirit was very restless. He loves seeing ‘his’ people during our regular visits, plus being the center of attention. I contacted the activity directors at the local facilities and asked if they would be interested in the therapy dogs coming and doing some tricks outside the windows where the residents could see them. On our first window visit, I had to chase Spirit because he kept trying to get into the building to be with ‘his’ people like he normally would. Even though this isn’t the optimal therapy dog experience for residents, I think they enjoyed seeing the dogs again,” said Carla.
Heartland volunteers also began calling skilled nursing facility staff members to personally thank them for their heroic service every day during the pandemic caring for patients and residents. Along with the thank you calls, they also sent cards and notes to patients and family members to stay in touch and offer words of encouragement.
The Heartland team stays connected to their patient’s by arranging virtual visits, some of who do not have family members to visit them. One volunteer has been sending daily inspirational texts to patients and facility staff members that also include inspiring musical videos. Another volunteer and their spouse made masks to donate to non-clinical staff members at facilities.