As we bid farewell to Summer 2020, activities at Maine Veterans’ Homes have looked much different because of COVID-19. Residents are accustomed to outings that would take them to restaurants for fresh seafood, the ballpark to watch the Seadogs, picnics by the water, fishing trips, and day trips to many of the state fairs. Due to coronavirus, these activities didn’t happen, but our activities staff were still busy making sure our residents stayed active and engaged.
A favorite activity at each of our Homes, Bingo, still occurs; the difference now is that residents set up their cards on tables in their doorways. All six Maine Veterans’ Homes locations have ordered amplifiers to make it easier for residents to hear in situations like this, allowing them to remain at a safe distance from fellow residents and staff, while still fully participating.
The Show Must Go On
Bringing musicians and other entertainment into the Homes is a much-loved part of our regular activities schedules, which, because of COVID-19, also doesn’t happen in quite the same way
Some area musicians have been kind enough to volunteer their time to play outside of the Homes, often prompting sing-a-longs from the residents inside. During spring at Maine Veterans’ Homes - Bangor, a youth from the community sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” with a portable microphone and speaker outside of each unit of the Home – a touching tribute to our nation’s heroes.
On the Road
Activities staff have gotten creative when it comes to taking trips “off-campus.” Residents travel virtually to attractions throughout the world – they have been able to appreciate the tulip bloom in Holland, go on gondola rides through Venice's canals, and travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower in France. The possibilities are endless.
The residents at Maine Veterans’ Homes - Machias have immensely enjoyed live-streamed concerts from the Grand Ole Opry and Voices of Vets, a group that performs songs from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and patriotic songs. Since COVID-19, the groups have streamed performances on YouTube. MVH Machias even has its own group, Melody Ranch, who plays the same music genre for fellow residents.
Sunshine, Family, and Parades
Residents love feeling the sunshine on their faces. Homes have established schedules for residents to be outside to ensure they don’t come in contact with anyone while being outdoors.
Maine Veterans’ Homes - Scarborough even held a lobster bake outdoors, blocking off the parking lot to ensure everyone could enjoy this Maine staple at a safe distance from one another.
Homes have allowed window and outdoor visits for residents and their families. One resident at MVH Scarborough celebrated his wedding anniversary with his wife through a window visit, where they talked on the phone and shared a special dessert made by our dietary staff.
A phenomenon that has emerged during the pandemic is the parade, which folks have used to celebrate birthdays and other special events. Friends and family decorate their cars, blare music, and lay on the horn as they drive past the birthday boy or girl’s, creating an unforgettable memory in the absence of a birthday party. MVH has taken this idea and used it as a way for family to see their loved ones who reside at the Homes. The community even turned out to celebrate the 100th birthday of a resident at our Home in Machias. The Coast Guard, Wreaths Across America, area elected officials, and four generations of Prid Dowling’s family made the day one to remember.
Old Favorites, in a New Way
In the absence of group activities and to the enjoyment of many residents, COVID-19 has meant more one-on-one activities such as reading, playing games, trivia, and conversation. Those staff who are talented in certain beauty regimens have also been having fun doing hair and painting nails for our ladies.
Crafts keep hands busy no matter what time of the year it is, and that has been the case as we find activities to do indoors during COVID-19. If done within a small group, residents are at least six feet away from one another, which still allows for the camaraderie they so enjoy. Maine Veterans’ Homes - Augusta held one of its popular paint nights that brought out smiles and artistic abilities.
Many of our residents miss shopping. Lisa Cirone, Activities Director at MVH Machias, purchased some of the most frequently bought items among residents and created a “shop” inside the Home. Pat Paar, Activities Director at Maine Veterans’ Homes - South Paris opened her own “farm stand” in the home with lemonade, cookies, and desserts. Both activities were embraced enthusiastically by residents.
While we don’t know what the rest of the year will bring when it comes to activities, we do know that our Activities staff will continue to bring new ideas to the table that will be sure to keep residents happy, healthy and engaged.
We welcome suggestions. Please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Maine Veterans’ Homes
The robust Activities Departments at our six Maine Veterans’ Homes locations ensure that residents get to enjoy hobbies, passions and pastimes that they liked to engage in before residing at our Homes, along with discovering new ones. That’s why donations made to MVH, unless specified otherwise, benefit our activities funds. Learn more about fun and easy ways to fundraise for Maine Veterans >>>