With care and safety as the number one priority for nursing homes across the Dallas County area, local establishments have been closing their doors to outside visitors, suspending in-person group activities and limiting staff interaction to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The staff have also been working long hours and adapting to many new changes.

However, with limited social interaction, nursing homes like Adel Acres and Spurgeon Manor, are encouraging community members to think outside the box on how to keep residents’ spirits up during the time of social distancing.

“To keep residents informed and encouraged, a daily newsletter is distributed with suggested in-room activities that includes an update of what Spurgeon Manor is doing during the pandemic. Most important is encouraging family members and the community to consider unique ways they can reach out and remember residents,” Spurgeon Manor Activity Director Diane Watts said.

One of these unique ways involves community members connecting with loved ones outside the window of their residence. Dallas Center community members have also recently done a drive-by parade as a way to let residents know that they are not forgotten and they are not alone.

“The community made it happen. Everyone was smiling, community members, staff and residents. It was a small moment of time that distracted us from our worries and fears, and it gave us something to do to occupy our time and invest in others,” community member Kristine Jimenez said.

The Dallas Center parade will continue at 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays, with a slightly different route each week.

Community member Carly Jones also added that it was really moving to see all of the people waving from their windows. She said it was truly a “grassroots effort” and that it was a good reminder that human interaction is very important.

“You could just feel the joy coming out of that building. This is a scary and uncertain time,” Jones said. “Some of these people driving had not seen their family members in person in a few weeks, that’s hard. This really brought everyone as a community together.”

At Adel Acres, community members have used dry erase boards as a means of communication while maintaining social distancing. Adel Acres Administrator Eric Klouse has also said that they are trying to keep things as normal as possible even those these aren’t normal times.

“We haven’t been able to do a lot of the large group activities we try to do but we try to come up with different ways to keep their spirits up,” Klouse said. “We’re always looking for ideas and we are trying to come up with anything and everything we can do. We are trying to be as creative as possible and get as much connection as we can.”

Both Adel Acres and Spurgeon Manor encourage community members to continue sending cards, making phone calls and writing letters.

Those interested in learning more on how to connect with residents or help their local nursing home can reach out to Adel Acres at (515) 993-4511 or Spurgeon Manor at (515) 992-3735.

“Everyday we are doing our very best at infection control techniques with the limited PPE and the cloth face masks we have. We realize our residents and staff are grieving the loss of normal life,” Spurgeon Manor Administrator Maureen Cahill said.

“Residents are like our family members, and now more than ever staff know how important they are in their lives,” Cahill added. “Staff love and care for them like their own family and will continue when normal life returns and their own family can come back and begin visiting again.”