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The Pandemic Brought Home to All The Need for Continued Support

Leigh Ann Barney
President & CEO
Trilogy Health Services, LLC

While the COVID-19 vaccines have given us all a much-needed shot of hope, the reality is that our industry, our employees, and our residents will be recovering from the pandemic’s effects for the foreseeable future.

Just as we rallied to support those we serve in the early days of the pandemic, we need to find ways to continue this support—not only because it’s in our best interest as an industry, but because it’s the right thing to do.

In the beginning stages of the pandemic, we saw people cheering for our front-line workers in the streets and honking at our residents during car parades. And while these were wonderful gestures of love and gratitude, I think that every leader in senior living knew that they were not nearly enough. Our employees and residents needed more from us, and they needed it now.

Understanding family needs

For Trilogy, this is where a strong foundation of employee and resident well-being programming became invaluable. Instead of building these programs from the ground up, we could tweak our existing support systems to address the pandemic’s new set of challenges.

For example, through our non-profit, the Trilogy Foundation, we have always offered our employees financial assistance for crises such as emergency surgery or a natural disaster, but during five weeks

in April and May, when stay-at-home orders were turning the lives of many families upside-down, we also invested $100,000 in food and childcare assistance for our employees.

In much the same way, we built on our existing employee assistance program, BeWell, to provide even more resources for our employees to find emotional and spiritual support. Most notably, we entered into a partnership with Marketplace Chaplains, which allows employees to connect with spiritual leaders and receive counseling, guidance, and comfort. To date, more than 4,000 of our employees have participated in this program.

The pandemic compounded existing hardships for all. One highly concerning aspect was the increased difficulty of getting away from domestic violence situations. Emergency funding made the difference: In 2020, we helped 61 employees escape domestic violence situations by offering emergency financial assistance.

Other families found debt climbing as jobs were lost. To help, we used a partnership with Dave Ramsey’s Smart Dollar program, resulting in employees eliminating $427,257 in debt and adding $242,120 in savings over 2020.

Helping the whole person

As the pandemic has worn on, we have continued to look for ways to double-down on our emotional, spiritual, financial, and physical support programs.

Our residents were at risk for suffering from the effects of social isolation, stress, fear, and loss. Our Life Enrichment and Dining Services teams, which were accustomed to offering both meals and activities in engaging group settings, immediately responded by adapting their services, and in many cases, creating new programming. We now have an entire catalog of activities that can be facilitated in small, socially-distanced groups or during one-on-one interactions.

In instances where quarantine measures have confined residents to their rooms, our teams are delivering what we call “Smile Packets.” These contain a variety of activities designed to bring joy to those in quarantine. Currently, we offer two types of Smile Packets – one each for higher and lower functioning residents. And while the gesture of delivering these packets may seem simple, we’ve seen them bring happy tears to the eyes of some of our residents.

We also altered our theme weeks, which we host once a quarter, where residents gather for a multiple course meal based on a theme. In October, this was “The Orient Express.” Where COVID-19 restrictions applied, we delivered these meals directly to our residents. These included steak filet oscar, and even charcuterie boards.