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Reopening Senior Centers
What to Expect
It is welcome news that pandemic restrictions will be lifted June 2 per Governor DeWine's order. Prior to COVID, STC would annually deliver over 40,000 trips to senior and community centers for older adults to participate in a variety of programs, meet their friends, and typically enjoy a hot lunch.
During the months that centers were closed, STC delivered meals (both hot and shelf stable) to older adults who were used to coming in for a meal. STC drivers not only delivered boxes, but also made sure the individual they visited was safe.
When COVID closed senior centers in March 2020 it was necessary to implement changes to keep older adults and staff engaged. Programs were restructured and virtual contact replaced personal interactions. When the weather changed to warmer conditions, it was easier to conduct outdoor activities rather than inside the center.
But as the post-COVID world reopens what can we expect when the centers actually open? Senior Transportation Connection (STC) spoke with a few senior center representatives' to find out what they were thinking about re-opening their doors.
Meeting nutritional needs was important, but it was critical to stay connected to seniors and making sure they were OK. Wendy Albin Sattin, Executive Director of Community Partnership on Aging (CPA), stated, "We began giving laptops to those in need and involved them in using technology to stay connected. Social workers and other staff reached out to make sure needs were taken care of, and even completed paperwork over the phone."
When warmer temperatures came in Spring, Debra of the North Royalton Office on Aging said some senior activities resumed, but out of doors., "We partnered with 'We Thrive Together' (a service that creates awesome virtual programs) to facilitate exercise programs in the Gazebo, Bingo and other activities."
Lakewood Office on Aging did not reopen their doors for any congregate activities, but they did continue taking their seniors shopping, and worked with STC who provided transportation for medical needs.
With most of the mandatory government restrictions lifted, the centers plan to continue doing as many of their activities as possible outside.Some centers will continue using the virtual tools to keep in touch with their clients. When buildings open, social distancing practices will likely continue as well as good sanitation practices.
As Wendy expressed so well, "We all had to reinvent ourselves with the changes forced on by the pandemic. Working with STC made the reinventing easier. We had less to worry about. I look forward to seeing STC busses regularly again with all our participants returning."
"I love socializing with other seniors and doing the exercises.I look forward to going back when I can," says Hazel a senior whom STC takes to the Gemini center. We here at Senior Transportation Connection look forward to driving them.