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Reaching Out to Clients with Dementia Amidst the Pandemic

Manfred Nowak, a participant in Circle of Care’s Adult Day Program, has continued to receive support during the pandemic via phone calls, Zoom and deliveries of fresh food and activities.

When Circle of Care’s Adult Day Program had to temporarily close our in-person activities back in March, ADP staff were faced with coming up with new ways to connect with clients and their caregivers. Their solutions included old fashioned phone calls and virtual programming offered over Zoom.

Suzanne Nowak, whose husband Manfred attended the program, says both of them have missed in-person activities dearly.

“The staff always put a lot of effort into making participants feel at ease,” says Suzanne. “I am forever grateful for the times he was taken in with love and encouraged to come in and have a nice meal or coffee with others. It allowed me respite, knowing that he was in good hands.”

Since the closure of the in-person ADP, Suzanne says she and Manfred still feel the support of Circle of Care. “We have received phone calls from social workers and staff to keep us informed, and we’ve received food baskets and activities for Manfred. The care and acknowledgement have helped both of us.”

When the ADP began virtual programming in July, it was eagerly welcomed by clients and caregivers alike. “My husband takes part in the morning and afternoon virtual programs,” adds the wife of a client. “He recognizes the staff and clients from meeting them in person, so he can still interact with the people he knows and trusts.”

Joan, a caregiver of one of our ADP clients, also took advantage of virtual programming via an online Caregiver Support Group that was run during the summer. The support group offered an opportunity to connect with other caregivers and learn about resources and advice for caring for a loved one during this extra-challenging time. “I was originally not going to take part, but I’m glad I did,” says Joan. “It was the best program I have participated in.”

Joan is also thankful for activity packages and fruit and vegetable baskets delivered to her home. “Circle of Care has done so much for us, keeping in touch by phone and Zoom has made all the difference.”

Circle of Care management worked hard over the summer months to prepare for re-opening the Adult Day Program this month. Careful thought and attention was put into training staff, re-thinking spaces, and determining how many ADP members the space can safely accommodate.

This week, the program will reopen for the first time since March. Three days a week, we will welcome back a small number of ADP members in-person while following recommendations set by York Region Public Health. We also look forward to continuing to provide online virtual programming for our other ADP members to participate from home.

Circle of Care’s Adult Day Program provides evidence-based programming to clients with dementia and Alzheimer’s who live in the community, and gives their caregivers the ability to rest, run errands, and recharge. The Adult Day Program runs within a secure site to prevent clients who present with exit-seeking behaviours. Each day is filled with activities and socialization aimed specifically at those who have been diagnosed with dementia. Staff members are specially trained on handling responsive behaviours, through re-direction and de-escalation.