By Leah Berman-Kress
Accessibility during a pandemic is certainly a challenge. This is particularly true when it comes to access to each other. Per Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order, all Pennsylvanians had been required to practice social distancing, which meant staying away from people with whom we do not live.
The Jewish Association on Aging put safety precautions in place to keep seniors healthy and the staff who care for them capable of carrying on with their work. On March 13, visitor restrictions were mandated to limit the number of people entering JAA’s various communities thus mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
This meant, however, that residents were not able to see their loved ones for many weeks. As restrictions continued, the more difficult it was to keep people apart.
Over the weekend of Mother’s Day, JAA was determined to find a way to connect residents with their families. In other communities across the country, window visits had been held but JAA did not have an adequate method to give everyone access through first floor windows. The facilities team at JAA created “chatter box” door windows made out of plexiglass to separate while keeping families close for the holiday. Residents could see their loved ones in person and, although there were plenty of rules in place to keep them safe, everyone was thrilled to see each other close up for a much-anticipated Mother’s Day love-fest.
The first hour’s visitors actually sat through a snow squall, but no one seemed to care as the warmth emanating between the families was indisputable. These in-person visits were refreshing for vulnerable seniors who had not been able to interact in such a meaningful way for such a long time.
With such positive feedback, and happy faces throughout JAA, the goal is to continue these visits more regularly making accessibility between families the norm rather than the exception.