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As pandemic restrictions ease, social health increases

Becky Nash

Wellness is about so much more than physical health; time spent in relationship with others is critical to well-being.

Babette Collins and Becky Nash are in the business of supporting the social health of residents at Parsons Presbyterian Manor.

Both Becky, the life enrichment director, and Babette, the social services director, organize their work days around meeting residents’ psycho-social needs.

The availability of vaccines and relaxation of some COVID-19 precautions have made their jobs much easier. All Presbyterian Manor residents can eat two-to-a-table in the dining room now, and in-person visits and gatherings have resumed. Residents can go out to eat or shop at Walmart without the need to quarantine.

“It really feels like we’re coming alive again,” Babette said.

“We’re able to talk and laugh and socialize together,” Becky added.

Babette Collins

As restrictions have relaxed, Becky and Babette have introduced a few new activities.

Jennifer Dawson, a local minister, has been leading Bible studies with residents in the health care and assisted living communities.

Every Friday, Babette takes residents on “scenic rides,” which gives everyone an opportunity to see something a little different.

Earlier this year, a family member of a resident thought there might be a need for a general support group, so Babette organized “Babbling with Babs,” a monthly meet-up for residents to discuss anything on their minds.  

But the brightest spot for our community has been the resumption of in-person visits with friends and family.

“Visits with family have increased immensely in the past few months,” Becky said. “You can see a big turnaround in the residents’ emotional well-being.”

Both women spend a great deal of one-on-one time with residents. Becky or a member of her staff personally distribute the “Manor Bee” daily newsletter to each resident. Babette takes case histories and conducts screenings. However, they both agree that checking in with residents is a team effort. They rely on other staff members to keep an eye out and communicate when there’s a concern.

“The relationships we all develop with the residents help us notice when something is out of the norm,” Becky said. “We often hear, ‘Hey, so-and-so seems kind of down. Can you stop by and check in on them?’”

If needed, Babette will follow up to review medications or conduct a depression screen.

“Because we’ve built such good relationships, we often don’t have to ask what’s going on,” Babette said. “Instead, residents come to us with their concerns first.”

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