ALEXANDRIA, VA -- While special attention is being paid to vulnerable communities under the coronavirus pandemic, one adult community service organization is serving as an example on creating a safe environment for both residents and staff.
Goodwin House, a faith-based not-for-profit that serves more than 2,000 older adults in Northern Virginia, has been serving as a model on maintaining care standards, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
"We're really starting to support people with knowledge and how to come around operationally COVID-19, which we recognize has been something that we've learned the hard way over the last several months, what to do and how to manage, and so wanting to share that knowledge and support with other organizations in the area," Rob Liebreich, President and CEO of Goodwin House Incorporated told 104.7 WONK FM's Jen Richer.
While numerous nursing and senior homes across the state have reported residents with positive cases of the coronavirus, Goodwin House has taken steps to ensure safety.
"The first and foremost thing is just to love on them and to remember that they are an incredibly important part of our society, our community, our families, and not to lose focus on doing everything we can, as our board of trustees had said, to be safe, save their lives and make sure that the staff that is supporting them has the tools and support they need to be as supportive as possible," Liebreich explained.
Safety is only part of the equation when it comes to the health of our adult communities under the pandemic.
"What we talk with our families, what we talk with our staff is just the acknowledgment that the pandemic is here, it's going to be here for awhile... so we have to get our tools in place to be as supportive for our residents as possible, to be as safe as possible, and then once you've established a safe environment, making sure you've created an engaged environment, an opportunity for people not just to sit in a space, but to still be engaged, and have a sense of purpose," Liebreich said.
Started in 1967 Goodwin House offers a wide range of services ranging from independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing to hospice and palliative living care, Medicare home health programs, aging in place programs, and HUD housing options. Under the pandemic all of these services have been tested.
"It's been a really hard time for us to manage through ... the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the things that we recognize is that we are fortunate to serve maybe one of the most resilient populations in our history. To think about what they've gone through in their time of life, what they've seen, what they've been able to pivot, understand, and survive through. We have a very strong group of older adults who are absolutely excited and wanting to continue to thrive."
While the pandemic has been a challenge, Liebreich pointed out that a career of service has had its share of rewards, too.
"If you get a chance to spend time in service with older adults, the wisdom, the stories, the heartbreak, the heartache, the beauty of life really gets exposed. All the parts you get to receive is such a gift for those that choose to come into field," Liebreich said.
How to Help Older Adults During the Pandemic:
- Connect - Making sure to connect with loved ones via tools like Skype, FaceTime, etc.
- Make New Friends - Reach out to older adults who may not have loved ones to connect with at this time.
- Engage - Find ways to help out in the community to stay personally engaged and maintain a sense of purpose.
Listen to the full interview here: