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What is Essential?

Heart Hands in the sunset

It has been several months since our nation first “shut down” and imposed drastic measures to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. And in many parts of the country including here in Ventura, CA, it seems like these measures are once again ramping up. There have been so many ups and downs throughout these past months, and at times, it truly feels like we are on a never-ending “Corona-coaster”.

New Year’s Resolutions and mantras for 2020 billed it to be the year that could provide us with 20/20 vision, with Clarity. Cue: Covid-19. Since the start of this pandemic, people everywhere have had to take a step back and figure out what was truly important – what things or which people in our lives were truly “essential”? With people having to suddenly work from home, cancel all their social engagements and various activities like going to the gym or attending class at the university, etc., a rare opportunity of reflection was afforded. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of a busy life was brought to a screeching halt, and people were given an opportunity to truly re-evaluate their life thus far and figure out what truly mattered.

Given our industry, Grace Living had to take drastic measures to ensure our vulnerable residents and staff remained safe and had as minimal exposure to the virus as possible. In addition to increasing our cleaning and safety protocols, our once open and inviting home had to shut its doors and restrict family and friends from visiting their loved ones. This was perhaps one of the most difficult changes we have had to make.

Relative visiting her elderly family member through a window.

Our residents very much looked forward to having their loved ones visit often (and in our Grace Living culture, we highly encouraged our families to come as frequently as possible and stay as long as they wanted). Due to Covid, “visits” became Facetime sessions, phone calls or a quick chat through the window. Thankfully, as we learned more about how the virus works, the local health orders relaxed a bit at the beginning of Summer and allowed for outdoor, socially-distant and masked 15-30 minute visits. But even with this slightly better visitation set-up, it still has not felt the same.

Elderly man looking out the window.

With the absence of the “normal way” of visiting, our team members have done a wonderful job in trying to fill that void for our residents. They have gone above and beyond in making sure our residents continue to feel loved and happy and cherished. They have showered our residents with extra TLC. One important essential we have discovered to be absolutely true during these times is the power of CONNECTION. Being able to stay connected to your loved ones, albeit virtually or physically (with-restrictions), is important not just for our elderly residents, but for everyone.

Elderly resident sharing a heartwarming card she received.

We have also had so many people in the community make or send cards to our residents letting them know they are being prayed for and that they are in the thoughts of so many. Our families have appreciated the ways we have tried to stay connected to them by filling them in on the day-to-day activities and progress of their loved ones.

They appreciate our caregivers’ efforts in setting up the Facetime calls or Zoom meetings, regardless of how awkward they may seem at first.

Meeting with family on Zoom
Using technology to connect with family.

We have come to embrace the beauty of technology as a way to stay connected to one another. Even on days where connecting with one another seems too daunting or a depressing reminder of how much has changed in the world since this virus began, trying our best to reach out to one another in big or small ways is ESSENTIAL. No one is alone in this. As they say, we are all fighting the same storm, but on different ships. Staying connected to one another reminds us there’s other boats out there and as long as we stay connected to one another, we can navigate these waters together. Just as love, compassion and kindness are essential, so, too, is CONNECTION.

Couple saying hello via a laptop.

With the holidays upon us, don’t forget to reach out to a loved one today or even to a stranger. We are blessed to have so many vehicles to facilitate connection and we must continue to try to utilize these tools everyday. CONNECTION is important and should be valued and treated as absolutely essential.

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