The Reopening of one Long-Term Care Facility in Boca Raton post-vaccine rollout
The Atrium at Boca Raton’s tagline is “The Care you Deserve” and has strived to provide its residents with living assistance and specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s care. COVID-19 quickly altered the state of the world seemingly from one day to the next, and The Atrium was also forced to adapt.
“The beginning of the pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty and confusion to the residents,” notes Michael Graham, executive director of The Atrium. “This was uncharted territory that no one person could say we had the answer to… COVID was new and had no time frame which we could quantify and say things will be back to normal, so our residents worried for the safety of their families and themselves.”
Long-Term Care Facilities in Boca and around the country were forced to change their daily operation style to best protect both the residents and staff. For staff, this included face mask/shield precautions, PPE for all staff, daily temperature checks, and bi-monthly COVID testing. Residents had their social interaction time with staff, other residents, and their families cut down drastically for their protection.
“It was definitely a major change in the way we serve our residents,” notes Graham. “[We would] visit residents in their apartments instead of greeting them in the dining room or lobby.”
However, times have changed for The Atrium with the introduction and widespread availability of multiple forms of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that sense of normalcy is beginning to return for residents and staff.
“Now that the vaccine has become more available and our residents have received them, we have been able to reopen common and recreational spaces to smaller groups of residents to socialize, our entertainers are back so they can enjoy shows again, and the families can come inside and embrace their loved ones,” Graham said. “Since the vaccination, our residents are starting to see some sense of normal day-to-day life that they had grown accustomed to prior to COVID.”
The Public Library of Science One recently published a study noting that one hour of social interaction for a patient with dementia “can significantly improve their quality of life and reduce agitation levels”.
“Now a vaccinated resident can allow a family member to hug them, their guest can go to their apartment, and we have increased the visitation time frames for longer periods of time and more visits throughout the week,” Graham concludes. “The residents and family are happy about the changes and still follow all safety protocols when coming for these visits.”
Moving forward, seemingly out of the pandemic, residents at The Atrium are beginning to return to their lives pre-pandemic and both the staff and residents are hopeful and excited for the future.