How this Kamloops retirement community is keeping residents connected during COVID-19 - InfoNews

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How this Kamloops retirement community is keeping residents connected during COVID-19

A Berwick on the Park resident has a video conference with loved ones while practising social distancing in the facility.
Image Credit: INSTAGRAM / Berwick on the Park
April 08, 2020 - 7:30 AM

For the seniors stuck in a facility where they can’t see their family or dine with one another, it was a challenge for staff to keep spirits high. At Berwick on the Park in Kamloops, staff are coming up with new events to keep their residents positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re constantly trying to think outside the box to adjust to the new normal,” says Lesley Sikorski, director of sales and marketing for Berwick Retirement Communities. “There’s a lot of things we’re trying to adjust right now. It’s different, but the staff are doing a phenomenal job in helping the residents stay active and connected.”

On March 17, Berwick on the Park in Kamloops put in measures to protect their at-risk residents from contracting the disease. So far, the facility has had no positive cases of COVID-19 and has not had to test anyone. There has been one confirmed case at another Berwick retirement community in Campbell River.

Although Sikorski says the residents are satisfied with the precautionary measures in place, she says they have struggled as daily activities have been altered or cancelled, only essential visits are allowed and the shared dining experience is no longer deemed safe. Meals are now delivered to each suite, and residents are given crafts and other activities to keep them busy.

“We’ve set up FaceTime and Zoom calls, so we have a lot of residents setting up virtual meetings with their family members… they’ve got a roving tuck shop so residents don’t need to go down to the tuck shop, it has got essential items, treats they think they’d need,” Sikorski says. “Last week it was Hawaiian day, and they delivered ice cream and tried to bring some sunshine to a snowy day. Last week they did a dance party in the halls, so they blast the music through all the halls and everyone can open their doors and participate.”

Sikorski says the residents are still able to attend some activities, such as live music, although fewer are allowed to join at any given time so social distancing measures can be enforced. These measures are in place at the seven Berwick communities across the province, though the general manager Bev Graham at the Kamloops location has come up with a few extra initiatives for the residents.

“She makes a soul boost package, it's for the immune system and the soul. Last week she did honey and green tea because obviously there are lots of antioxidants in honey and green tea, it keeps you hydrated… she’ll go face to face with all residents of the building while obviously maintaining that social distancing while giving them these little packages, and it details all the different antioxidants.”

The families of some Berwick on the Park residents have made these signs as a way to stay connected.
The families of some Berwick on the Park residents have made these signs as a way to stay connected.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Lesley Sikorski

For the residents who live on the back end of the site, family members have been invited to created signs for the residents to read.

“They’re almost like real estate signs but blank, and they’ve had every single family member send in a message. They’re personalized signs like, ‘Nana, we're thinking of you and we can't wait to see you,’” Sikorski says. “All of those signs are going to be on the back lawn so those residents can see them… it’s going to be so powerful.”

The River City facility has also purchased two garden beds for the residents to tend to, and will be donating all of the produce to the Kamloops Food Bank in the coming months.

Sikorski says all of these initiatives have been having a positive impact on residents during this time.

“It’s stressful and it’s a bit scary for everyone,” Sikorski says. “But we've just heard very positive feedback so far... we have really amazing residents there so we feel very fortunate to be caring from them.”

To see what the Kamloops retirement community has been doing to keep positive, check out Berwick on the Park on Instagram.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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