In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Senior Living operators have scrambled to respond to the immediate challenges of maintaining the physical safety of their residents and staff. Massive amounts of time, energy and money have been spent in securing personal protective equipment, creating new infection control protocols, and ensuring the deployment of new best practices. And while these efforts are critical, Senior Living providers need to consider how the crisis is affecting the mental health of our teams.
While caregivers, managers and other staff may have the outward appearance of being resolute, upbeat and resilient in the face of current challenges, underneath that brave exterior, most struggle with the same fear, anxiety, helplessness and depression that most of us feel at one point or another in relation to this pandemic. Additionally, because they may be required to quarantine for extended periods to ensure the safety of staff and residents, they may also experience isolation, which can compound these issues.
For some Senior Living organizations, the inevitable long-term effects of the crisis on the mental health and well being of staff has taken a back seat to the more urgent immediate concerns. But as we face the hard truth that this crisis is likely to continue into the foreseeable future, it is important for Senior Living providers to be proactive in examining ways to support the mental health of their teams. After all, it is much easier to support someone’s mental health before a personal crisis arises.
To support their staff, Senior Living operators may want to consider the following ways to protect their team’s mental health as well as their physical health.
- Free counseling sessions (Starbucks is giving its employees 20 free sessions/year)
- Access to Crisis Prevention hotlines
- Access to online mental health resources (Target is offering employees free online resources to support their mental, emotional, and physical health.)
- Creating an online community for workers to connect with one another to discuss challenges they’re facing surrounding corona-virus.
- Wellness-related Zoom events
- Digital Counseling sessions with mental health counselors
- Well-being coaching sessions
- Mandatory time off
- Mindfulness Training
- Webinars or Q&A sessions focused on mental health strategies
- Revisiting policies like sick leave and PTO
- Reviewing policies around performance reviews and bonuses.
In addition, even small gestures can mean the difference between employees feeling overwhelmed or being able to manage stress effectively. Examples include gift certificates, discounts on takeout or delivery food and gift certificates for home-delivered snacks.
The corona-virus crisis has highlighted the need to focus on the mental health of our front line caregivers, managers and executives alike. While many organizations are leading the way in caring for their teams, going the extra mile to support their long term mental health and wellness will demonstrate that they are valued and cared for.