Connecting Through the Mask

Angie SzumlinskiHealth

Living in the year of a pandemic has changed the way staff work with our residents. Although PPE such as face masks/shields, gowns, and gloves are essential in lessening the potential spread of COVID-19, it can leave residents and staff feeling “empty”. Many residents have voiced being lonely, sad, depressed, anxious, imprisoned, and disconnected from their loved ones.

Staff have undergone many changes that impact the residents; the most significant change being residents can no longer see the staff’s facial expressions. This can lead to challenges when providing care; especially for residents living with Dementia. So how can we break down that barrier? For residents able to comprehend the current situation, explain to them that PPE is used to help protect them, and explain how PPE is changed and hands are cleaned, etc.

Remember, residents living with Dementia are relying on our voices because they can’t see our faces. Introduce yourself each and every time you have contact with a resident, wear a name tag with a colored photo of yourself and most importantly, watch your tone when speaking to residents, maintain a patient and friendly voice, even during difficult times.

Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, stay safe, mask up and stay tuned!