BAR HARBOR—Since March 18 the residents of Birch Bay Retirement Village have been sheltering in place. Way ahead of the government directive,the doors were closed to the public, all group activities ceased,and the main dining room was closed by a vote of the residents.
“We have an amazing staff who normally go above and beyond,” said Susanne Hopkins, director of marketing at Birch Bay. “From the housekeeping to the dining to the nursing staff, they all give personalized and compassionate care.”
But,as quickly as COVID-19 became a part of the local lexicon, the staff at Birch Bay began to find different ways to engage with the residents who were not only unable to see their friends and family, but were largely unable to interact with one another.
Enter AJ Dobrosielski, a member of the dining services team who was used to serving dinner to approximately 27 residents each night.
As procedures changed, so too did the way people dine. “We now take orders from the residents in the afternoon and we deliver dinner to them in the evening,” said Hopkins.
And with the deliveries came personalized greetings by Dobrosielski.
“I was thinking that it’s really hard that we don’t get to interact with residents in the dining room anymore. I wanted to remind them that we are thinking of them and that I still very much care about them even though it’s such a hard time,” said Dobrosielski. “I started with little notes to everyone saying that I hope they enjoyed their dinners and then I decided I would draw little smiley faces which turned into little comics and illustrations and puns that made me laugh, with the chance that it might make our residents laugh as well.”
Who wouldn’t smile when receiving a note with hugging birds that said, “Like birds of a feather, we will get through this together?”
It may not be the wine-filled social hour that the residents are used to, but it’ll have to do for now.