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Spotlight on caring: older adults at home get a special delivery of springtime cheer from Providence ElderPlace

Before the pandemic, Providence ElderPlace health and social centers served as the place for our participants, older adults, to receive medical, social, recreational and therapeutic services.

When stay-at-home orders took effect in Oregon, caregivers had to find new ways to engage participants who rely on Providence ElderPlace for their health and well-being.

“When your program is based on social connection as a way to keep seniors healthy and safe, we had to get creative to make sure our participants know that we are still here for them,” says Kira Karinen, RN, nursing supervisor with Providence ElderPlace Milwaukie.

That’s when caregivers at Providence ElderPlace Milwaukie came together with their families to add a little color and cheer to participants’ home environments by making homemade cheer cards.

In just a few days, more than 85 artists, including caregivers, their families and friends, created hundreds of bright cards, many with uplifting messages and words of hope. Then, Providence ElderPlace drivers, who normally transport participants back and forth from their homes, stepped in to deliver the cheerful artwork to each of Providence ElderPlace’s participants.

“Our goal was to remind each participant that, even though we can’t see them every day, they are loved, are not forgotten, and that we will get through this together,” says Kira. “We’ve heard they’ve been very appreciative of the gesture … one participant was so delighted, they promptly displayed their artwork on the fridge to see every day.”

The creative cards are just one way ElderPlace is connecting with participants. They are also delivering activity packets, reaching out by phone, and using virtual technology to provide social connections. Caregivers also continue to support participants’ health care with in-home visits, telehealth, and safe transport for medical treatment when needed.