Long-term care providers serving on the frontlines of this crisis are caring for the most vulnerable population - one in which a COVID-19 infection is the most deadly. Serving elders in the time of a pandemic can be extremely stressful, and, if left unchecked, can lead to staff and resident fear, as well as retention issues.
LeadingAge Ohio member United Church Homes manages 70 life plan, healthcare and affordable housing communities in 14 states and 2 tribal nations. This company, based in Marion, has been a leader when it comes to preparing and supporting staff in the face of a global pandemic.
They have been drilling for the coronavirus and inspiring staff, or long-term care 'warriors' as they refer to them.
United Church Homes Chief Growth Officer Terry Spitznagel recently described how fear was affecting the work of their staff across service lines in an interview with LeadingAge.
"What I was sensing was that the mental health needs around this were increasing. You could just feel the anxiety of staff.”
Spitznagel described how United Church Homes staff worked to "normalize" preparing for a coronavirus infection, much in the same way a nursing home would prepare for a fire or a tornado.
It became an organic campaign. United Church Homes instituted “Warrior Pay,” additional pay during the pandemic. Employees are engaging in team building exercises while training, and bonding through social media videos and hashtags, like #UCHFlex and #UCHWarriors.
"It [pandemic drilling] makes sure we’re prepared, but it also helps the staff know that they can and will do this all together, and we’re ready.”
Read on to learn how United Church Homes is building a 'warrior' culture in its staff, who are learning to depend on one another while preparing to fight COVID-19 infection.