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The light of normalcy is beginning to shine

It’s been a very long year — one marked by the loss of anchors that have been a source of joy in our lives.

As the coronavirus spread throughout the world, staff and residents were forced to retreat in an effort to protect everyone. Unfortunately, this meant a temporary suspension of outside visitors and the normal activities that traditionally marked each day.

“The biggest challenge was to watch our residents longing to see their families,” said Life Enrichment Director Sandy Barnes. “They wanted to come out of their rooms and at least associate with others for some comfort … they wanted the ‘norm’ back in their lives. To come out and eat with their friends, play bingo and cards, paint, and to be out of their rooms for just a little while.”

As vaccinations are readily available, some signs of normal are emerging. Activities are returning, as are in-person religious services. Families are able to set up appointments to visit their loved ones, and that has elevated everyone’s spirits.

“We have been able to bring back their card games and bingo for them to enjoy,” Sandy said.  “We are still having some of the mystery carts with snacks and drinks on them that we used to surprise them with each Thursday. They sure liked seeing the mystery cart each week. In June, we started the neighborhood meetings again, so we can let them know what is coming next and we can learn what they are concerned about or want to see come back.”

Also returning are the Painting with Christa classes.

“They love to express themselves, and Christa assists them to paint a portrait and take it home with them at end of the class,” Sandy said. “Sing-alongs are back also, and they love singing.  As we move forward, there will be more things we will get back to, like trips outside the building.”

During the past 18 months, both residents and staff have worked to get through the worst of the pandemic, to a place where everyone could safely enjoy daily activities. While residents struggled through isolation and separation from in-person visits, staff struggled with additional duties and the pain of seeing residents lose their sense of normalcy.

“They are very happy to finally start to see the light at the end of this very long tunnel,” Sandy said. We didn’t have as many to come out for the activities as we thought to begin with. Some were a little unsure if they wanted to come out or not, but we are now getting larger crowds as the days go by. They visit about their families and the new grandbabies that they finally got to see in person. Lots of smiling faces around here again.”

Staff is doing a great job caring for residents, Sandy said, despite the challenges of the past year and a half.

“Staff took on jobs that were not in their realm. Some assisted with serving meals, others assisted with the video chats, some just said, ‘Tell me what is needed and I will try my best to help.’ They have worked long hours with masks on, face shields, gloves and full PPE. Everybody did what was needed in a time when none of us knew when things would change again and something new would come up,” Sandy said.

Employees in every department — from administration across the board — did yeoman’s work to care for residents and keep them safe and make them feel loved.

“The administration team were great leaders amongst the things changing on an hourly basis at times,” Sandy said. “They made sure staff, residents and family members were abreast of the situation at least on a weekly basis. I just want to say that most of all here at Aberdeen Village, I think we have the best executive director ever in Tim Allin. He spent multiple hours here making sure everything was OK before going home at night and then coming in very early to make sure things were in place for another day of pandemic. We could not have made it through this if it was not for him.”

Though the past year has brought us all considerable loss — including beloved entertainer Lenn Anderson and Wally, one of our Pets for Life dogs — there’s reason to be hopeful for the future. Soon outside volunteers should be allowed in, and we’ll all be able to enjoy our friends again at parties and social functions in the community.

“I just really want to say that it takes a full team, and we have a great team,” Sandy said.

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