~By Susan Rodd, Manager of Curriculum Development at CP
A day in the Adult Day Services (ADS) program is typically full of busy activity; clients and staff moving through the hallways, chatting and hanging out.
But like many organizations and businesses, that all changed last March when COVID-19 made itself known in Northeast Wisconsin, and we quickly realized we needed to adjust. Providers like CP must always be prepared to adapt and reimagine their programs to better align their offerings with the needs of our clients always in mind. And that is exactly what we did, albeit gradually.
While we were all safe at home in March and April, our instructors created impromptu videos to share on Facebook and CP’s website so clients could stay engaged. Topics included making guacamole and stress balls, to important stretching exercises. Some even shared updates on projects classes were working on prior to Safer at Home. It wasn’t much, but it was a start and served as a way to remain connected to clients who rely on CP for activity and socialization each day.
Our ADS team never imagined that we would need to revamp our programming with so much safety in mind in order to reopen. But our team was up for the challenge if that meant we could allow clients to return to programming. We spent weeks developing new policies and procedures and determining needs so when we did reopen at the end of May, we were ready.
Those new changes meant that the schedule for our Green Bay site needed to completely change. Instead of holding our typical morning and afternoon classes as usual, we decided to form “pods” to allow the same 15 clients and 4-5 staff to stay together for classes, lunch and any personal care needs throughout each day. Keeping groups together, while really different for us, went a long way to ensure the safety of clients and staff.
To form pods, our team looked at everyone’s current classes and grouped clients who shared similar interests. They also considered client social wellbeing, ensuring everyone had a few friends within their pods, too. Our goal was to keep everyone safe within their pods while causing the least disruption.
CP always strives to make programming individualized for each client. And what feels like 137 months later, we feel that we’re still offering quality programming and keeping the clients’ best interest in mind, while maintaining everyone’s safety.
In fact, the pods have really been working well and everyone has adapted well to their classes. A few clients have even discovered some new classes they never thought they would enjoy.
After pods were well underway, we looked for other ways to expand programming, especially to those clients who needed to stay at home. So, in August we began offering opportunities where a few clients were able to join a class virtually. Most recently, we introduced more structured, 8-week group virtual classes, to include even more clients that are still safe at home. Classes include Fitness Champions, Virtual Tours-Around the World in 8 Weeks, Once Upon a Story, Games Galore and Craft Junkies.
We’re excited to see everyone that we haven’t seen in while and the social interactions have been just as meaningful as the actual activities.
While all of these new ways to hold classes – from quick Facebook videos, to instructor lead virtual programming – have been key in continuing to serve our clients, we are very much looking forward to the day when we can welcome everyone back at CP.