Staying busy hasn’t been a problem for seniors at the Bayview life plan community in Queen Anne during the quarantine, although programmed activities have been canceled for some time.
Unlike other facilities, Bayview offers continuous care in one building — from residential independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehab to child development center, and some of the residents are among the most vulnerable to serious illness.
So when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency to slow the spread of COVID-19, that meant the whole community had to shut down immediately, including activities, communal dining and visitations.
“It’s been really hard because the world at Bayview has gotten smaller,” CEO Nancy Weinbeck said.
But just because certain aspects of daily life have changed dramatically, Bayview residents are still as busy as ever. Thanks to their own resourcefulness and a little assistance from staff, residents have stayed active through various ways.
Lynn Artuffus, director of activities for the assisted living, memory care and skilled living services, said activities are a little more free form than they were before, but actually, things are almost busier.
“One thing I’ve really noticed is it’s almost harder on family,” she said, adding staff field a lot of phone calls and emails from concerned family members seeking information about their loved ones. “A lot of time, with family, we’re just being supportive and listening and trying to be the go-between for everyone.”
Bayview staff found the Zoom platform as a good way to alleviate family members’ concerns, as well as stay in touch with residents.
In fact, Zoom was instrumental for a 65th wedding anniversary celebration between two residents who live on different floors.
Not only did residents Glenn and Joyce Henderson get to see each other for the first time since quarantine, their day was even more special because family members from as far away as Hawaii participated, and everyone got to look at wedding pictures, eat cake and enjoy themselves while still apart.
Technology is playing an important part in day-to-day life in other ways, as well.
To remind residents they are cared for, Weinbeck has been sending out weekly video messages to communicate news and positive messages.
The Bayview chaplain has also recorded her sermons, which are then shared with residents who watch them on tablets purchased by Bayview.
“We’re really looking at ways of bringing technology to help us connect,” Weinbeck said.
It initially required a lot of work behind the scenes between administrators and IT staff to ensure residents and staff can use the tablets and other technology safely without compromising the Bayview fire wall or electronic health records or residents’ privacy.
With that accomplished, however, technology may open up even more opportunities than it has already.
“Bayview has always been unique and creative in the kinds of programs that we do,” Weinbeck said. “The energy is there, and it’s really figuring out how to tap into that.”
Weinbeck said staff is currently looking at ways to bringing smart home technology into residents’ quarters and apartments, which would allow them to use a smart platform like Alexa or Siri to connect with friends or the front desk.
Residents have also used technology to carry on their own programs.
Because seniors have additional access to technology through the tablets, and some have smart phones, some residents have taught others how to use different online platforms, including Zoom and Skype and Facetime, so they can video chat family members and friends.
One resident has started a multi-week program on Jewish studies he hosts through Zoom, and he also volunteers his time teaching others how to use the platform, Director of Resident Services Heather Smith, who coordinates programming and activities for independent services, said.
She added that, with so much being done through technology, residents who were not inclined to learn before are now showing an interest.
“It has been very interesting to see different residents embracing some of the technology now that they wouldn’t necessarily have before,” Smith said.
One of the residents also hosts virtual happy hours through Zoom, and twice a month the dining staff put together little offerings of wine and cheese.
Other residents are trying to bring their regular classes that they teach, such as water coloring, online so they can continue them.
“They are looking at ways to still get together,” Smith said.
Not all activities require technology, however.
Gardening is popular among the residents, and members of the gardening club purchased extra flowers this year for residents who have pea patches or planting containers so they would not have to go to the store to buy them.
To promote exercise, residents are encouraged to walk a loop on the campus, and the wellness director has put workout tips in a weekly newsletter that comes out every Friday. She also offers online wellness classes, including yoga and floor exercises.
As well, two resident volunteers create daily brain teasers and puzzles and jokes that are shared across Bayview, delivered with lunch or dinner.
And recently, residents keen on sewing made more than 100 masks that were donated to people in the community.
Members of the Bayview Archives Committee have also stayed busy researching the community’s history in preparation for the 60th birthday next year.
“They are so excited, and it’s just a bummer because all of this is happening right now,” Smith said, adding members are making the best of it, speaking by phone or social distancing in the first floor lobby area.
To provide a morale boost, one resident, Bill Jordan, a retired architect, created cartoon heroes, a male and female Captain Bayview, that he drew and are now on display on cardboard cutouts for everyone to enjoy.
“Our residents drive so much of what happens at Bayview,” Weinbeck said. “It’s really what makes Bayview such an amazing place.”
Weinbeck and Smith agree that residents and their interests are instrumental in the programming and activities going on at Bayview at any time.
And while it may sound odd, Smith thinks the pandemic has actually made people closer.
“Which is weird because of social distancing, right?” she said.