Updated: May 27
By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
Frontline heroes across the nation have fought tremendously hard to eradicate the virus in their long-term care communities, and now it is finally starting to pay off. So much so that long-term care communities with Voyage Long Term Care have recently been able to take their residents on outings to various experiences around the Oklahoma City metro area for the first time in two years.
Oh, The Places We’ve Gone...
Residents with Oak Hills Care Center have recently had the opportunity to experience The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden in OKC’s Adventure District, and the newly built First Americans Museum. As the days get warmer, the Activities Department at Oaks is making plans to do one or two outings a month. “I love the smiles on the residents’ faces when they're having fun away from the facility,” Activities Director at Oak Hills, Bobbi Thomas, said.
Life enrichment professionals at Edmond Health Care Center are also making plans to venture on more outings this year and went bowling at the AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond in March, almost exactly two years after the pandemic of 2020 began to take its toll on the mental and physical well-being of nursing home residents.
Two Years Inside
In the beginning of March 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced critical new measures restricting all group activities inside and outside of the facilities, communal dining, non-essential health care personnel and visitors (with exception to end-of-life situations.)
These new guidelines kept our residents safe, but isolated, with nothing to do, no one to see, outside of their caregivers, and nowhere to go. “The residents were depressed, cranky, sad, and we saw even more behaviors,” Thomas said. “For our residents in the memory-care unit, they really didn't understand what was going on. I think they were affected by it the most.”
As of April 2022, approximately 87.8% of residents per facility across the nation have been vaccinated, and visitation, group activities and outings are now allowed again.
Outings give long-term care residents the opportunity to socialize, exercise, learn, and even reminisce. Visiting a location that holds nostalgia, such as a zoo, or museum, provides a sense of happiness and accomplishment, and can help symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Thomas says that she knows how special the recent outings have been to the residents. “My most favorite thing is the hugs they give me and the gratefulness they show to me when we get back from an outing,” Thomas said. “They will tell me that they had a really good time and can't wait to go on another outing. That really warms my heart.”