Reflections on One Year of Serving Older Adults in a Pandemic
In March of 2020, our programs shifted quickly to prioritize the safety of our employees, volunteers, and those we serve. Our community dining sites, hosted in Wards 5 and 6 closed and Seabury began delivering meals and reaching out to older adults in other ways.
Seabury Ward 6 Director, Le’Anetta Obasanjo recalls the start of the D.C. area public health emergency, saying, “We did not think that the pandemic would last this long. We did not imagine that we would have to transition to 98% virtual programming and office work for an entire year.”
Vivian Grayton, Seabury Ward 5 Director, oversaw the transition at Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, one of our dining sites that closed in March. She remembers participants at the Center struggling. “They were very afraid. They were very lonely… When the drivers were delivering food to their homes, that would be the only contact they had. We still have a difficult time doing virtual activities with them because they cannot see. We had to switch from doing Zoom calls to regular calls.”
Both Le’Anetta and Vivian have seen how the pandemic has affected older adults. Vivian has noticed increased “food insecurity, mental and physical health issues, isolation and loneliness.” Le’Anetta says the older adults she works with “have ultimately become more guarded.”
Seabury continues to engage older adults via virtual activities, phone call wellness checks, which has allowed us to reach even more participants than in previous years. Seabury Connector delivers meals to older adults in their homes to ensure they are well-fed as they remain safely at home.
Reflecting on a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Le’Anetta shares, “It has been challenging for staff, as well as, the seniors we serve; however, we are resilient and we will continue to thrive together.”