With the holidays fast approaching, we are all anxiously waiting to see our loved ones and spend more time with them, but with the on-going pandemic and recent influx of cases, this year’s holiday festivities will be looking a bit different. The holiday season can always be a challenging time for residents in long-term care facilities. This year will likely prove to be the most difficult yet as many buildings continue to have restrictions on visitors. Taking the time to provide extra care and engagement for residents this holiday season will be especially important in order to maintain moral as we continue to do everything possible to keep our residents safe – this includes not only while in the building, but also taking precautions while outside of building.
Festive holiday ideas for residents include:
- pass special holiday themed treats or desserts
- add special themed meals to the menus
- have holiday caroling outside of windows or via video
- socially distant or masked (with proper hand hygiene) holiday parties and activity gatherings
- themed sweater parties, wreath decorating, making decorations/ornaments for trees in the building, cookie decorating
- have a resident gift tree (for wish lists) so families and the outside community can purchase/donate items residents need – or have residents help create a wish list for facilities (such as games, craft supplies) for resident engagement
- have residents make holiday greeting cards – or request the public or family send cards to residents to enjoy
While healthcare workers can leave at the end of their shift, additional considerations must be remembered in order to keep our residents safe once staff returns.
Considerations for employees during the holiday season and gatherings:
- shop online to avoid crowded stores, whether grocery or retail
- prepare favorite recipes, deliver meal to high risk individuals, then host virtual dinner together to avoid large indoor gatherings
- disinfect high traffic areas before and after if having guests in your home
- consider getting testing for COVID-19 prior to holiday gathering and/or after, or per your facilities protocol
- keep the guest list short, consider only hosting immediate family
- consider the following for in person dining:
- one-person plating/serving food versus a buffet line or have guests bring their own food/drinks
- single-use items or have pre-portioned condiments, as well as disposable utensils and dishware
- rent a larger space for greater distancing capability, or open windows if outside venue is not appropriate due to weather
- encourage all guest to wash hands or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) when entering residence and frequently.
- urge all guests to wear face coverings (space out when eating/removing face covering or mask)
- use multiple small tables versus one large dinner table for social distancing while eating and masks are removed
The holidays can still be a special time for everyone, even during a pandemic. Together we can make the most of it and celebrate while continuing to do our part to keep everyone safe.