Nursing home staff in Blacksburg keeps spirits high during pandemic

Local News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — At English Meadows Assisted Living in Blacksburg, no one but staff has walked through its doors because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

“As hard as it is for us right now, it’s even more difficult for them,” said Melinda Collins, the campus administrator for English Meadows in Blacksburg.

Collins was wearing a Goofy hat, like the Disney character, during the entire interview. That’s one of the many ways she and her staff have been trying to keep residents smiling and entertained.

“We’ve done different theme days,” Collins said. “Like last week, we had tacky day and pajama day… wear your favorite sports team day, just us being silly and out of our normal comfort zone to liven things up and be happy for the residents.”

We weren’t allowed to go inside English Meadows, for obvious reasons, but one resident wanted to come outside to let us know what he thought about how the staff has been doing. We kept our six feet of social distance, of course.

“Oh! They’re doing a fantastic job, said Tony Campesini. “They’re all out, always talking, seeing how you’re doing, visiting you in your room or your apartment.”

Staff have made fill-in-the-blank signs for residents to fill out and share in the fun. One popular sign wrote “I’d trade a roll of toilet paper for __________.” Some of the answers ranged from flowers to a chocolate milkshake. For Campesini, he’d trade for a beer, Yuengling to be exact.

Outside of the staff’s efforts, local church choirs have performed outside residents’ windows. Families are teaching their relatives how to use FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom to continue interacting with their loved ones. Families are also making a point of showing love to the hard-working staff, as well.

“So many of our residents families have dropped of donuts and cookies and cards… candy and little trinkets and thank you notes for us, for the staff,” Collins said, smiling ear to ear.

It’s a much earned thank you for the work being put in by the staff at English Meadows, at least that’s what Campesini says.

“They’re all dressed up, trying to keep us happy,” he said.

English Meadows is beginning to get more structured in how they keep their residents engaged. Starting Friday, Apr. 3, staff at all eight of English Meadows locations will hold events like parades by residents’ windows, sing alongs, and treat giveaways. They’ll continue to do that every Friday until the pandemic has passed.

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