BSO interventions have enhanced quality of life for Riverview Manor residents during pandemic

Team members reflect on how they have helped residents through a challenging time

The global COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging to deal with for all people living in long-term care homes, but many residents who are also living with cognitive impairment have found the lack of family contact and physical restrictions the pandemic has brought to be especially challenging, say members of Riverview Manor’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team.

However, Karlie Phillips and Carly Kenny say the BSO team has applied interventions that have helped residents of the Peterborough long-term care home through this difficult time.

For example, one resident living with cognitive impairment who will sometimes wander was finding restrictions difficult to cope with during an isolation period, so BSO team members engaged her in activities she found interesting.

Of note, Karlie says the resident enjoys colouring and sorting activities, so team members would bring her colouring books and sorting games that would keep the resident busy and, most importantly, happy.

On those occasions when the resident wished to leave her room, Karlie says she would equip the resident with a mask and accompany her to the dining room where they could be alone.

Karlie would then provide one-to-one activities to safely give the resident the change of environment she needed.

Adapting to the resident’s needs worked well, Karlie says.

“The resident understood why (the restrictions were in place); we had to explain why things were different and why we have to wear masks, and eventually she would stay in her room,” Karlie explains.

Sometimes the resident would come to her doorway, but team members understood this was a cue the resident was looking for someone to spend time with, so team members would stay with the resident.

Carly notes that isolation can increase agitation for people living with dementia, but by using BSO interventions and working collaboratively with other staff members, the BSO team members can enhance quality of life for residents.

“We really want to make sure that we have interventions to make sure residents (maintain their quality of life) – it’s a process, but we’ve been successful,” she says.

BSO team lead Becky Dennie says BSO skills have been “very important” during the pandemic.

“It has been especially important to have the specially trained staff to work with people exhibiting behaviours because (the pandemic) does create new behaviours – loneliness being huge – and having those familiar faces popping in to see them throughout the day has helped,” she says.

BSO is a provincial initiative that’s enhancing quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that can cause agitation. The funding, which is provided to long-term care homes through the province’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks, is largely put towards staff education.

– More to come