Center on Aging offers safe, person-centered ways to bring holiday joy to nursing homes residents
MANHATTAN — For many elders in nursing homes, holidays are difficult under normal circumstances as they can trigger grief for loved ones lost such as spouses or partners. Add in today's challenges with COVID-19 where physical contact with family and friends may be limited or nonexistent, and the holidays may look not so bright for nursing home residents.
But a program offered by Kansas State University's Center on Aging, a part of the College of Health and Human Sciences, is offering safe ways to connect elders to their communities and families during the holidays and beyond. The center's PEAK 2.0 website, hhs.k-state.edu/aging/outreach/peak20/holiday-ideas.html, offers ideas and links to make the holidays merrier for nursing home residents.
PEAK — Promoting Excellent Alternatives in Kansas — started in 2002 as a recognition and education program to encourage elderly care providers in Kansas to adopt person-centered care. K-State's Center on Aging has a long history with PEAK. The center was responsible for the development of culture change educational modules. In 2012, the program was revised and became PEAK 2.0. The program focuses on five domains essential to person-centered care: The Foundation, Resident Choice, Staff Empowerment, Home Environment, and Meaningful Life.
"Time with family and friends is so important for buffering and supporting elders through the holiday blues," said Laci Cornelison, PEAK 2.0 program coordinator. "More than any other time in recent history, the conflict between protecting elders' health and safety and their quality of life in nursing homes is colliding."
Cornelison said families and communities are welcome to share the center's ideas and links, all emphasizing PEAK 2.0's focus on person-centered care, to bring some holiday joy and hope to elders.
"One of our favorite projects is the virtual holiday party," Cornelison said. "Many homes spend time planning, preparing and then engaging in holiday parties that include the elders, their families and loved ones and staff. When elders direct the planning, preparation and execution of these parties, they can have significant meaning and purpose for them. This helps elders combat loneliness and depression."
The Center on Aging's PEAK 2.0 website includes ideas for engaging smaller groups of physically distanced residents in planning, preparing, inviting and hosting virtual events. Instead of one big party, groups of elders participate in smaller parties with the assistance of consistently assigned caregivers through virtual platforms while doing things with their loved ones at the same time, Cornelison said.
The virtual party suggestions are just one way the Center on Aging is redefining connection and meaning during the holidays for elders in nursing homes.
"The true heroes are the elders, families and staff members navigating these challenging times," Cornelison said. "We wanted to infuse hope into a field where creative resources and manpower has been highly stressed for months on end."
More information on the K-State Center on Aging and PEAK 2.0 can be found at hhs.k-state.edu/aging/outreach/peak20.