Honoring Our Heroes – The Staff of the Homestead Assisted Living

Local advocate discusses what it means to celebrate American Indian Heritage Month in Louisiana 
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Honoring Our Heroes – Lawrence DeHart
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The coronavirus hit Terrebonne Parish this spring fast and furious. Within a few weeks of the first case being recorded, schools were closed and shortly after, our state went into lockdown. For the residents of The Homestead Assisted Living, their quarantine began on March 11, 2020. As harsh as it might seem to some, the fifty-six residents of The Homestead were protected. The facility has yet to report a single case of coronavirus.

“For the health and safety of our residents and our staff, we made the decision to lockdown the facility to outside visitors on March 11,” shared Rusty Talbot, Director of Marketing and Admissions. “This meant no more visitation in the building, along with temperature and pulse ox checks on our residents every day.”

The entire staff at The Homestead stepped up and started working extended days, extended hours, making sure the residents were taken care of in the building. If a family needed to send something, it went to a front office where it was sanitized before being delivered to the resident. All visitation was done over FaceTime or through windows.

The staff had to get creative on how they were going to do activities for residents. They called bingo over the loudspeaker to residents as they sat with a mask on their face in the hallway. They hosted an ice cream sundae cart on Fridays where they gave resident a bowl of ice cream and choices of toppings.

“For the first couple of months we passed what we called our hospitality cart, which is like the stewardess on the airplane where daily, we would walk around the building, room to room, with snacks and toilet paper and paper towels and other toiletries that they needed,” shared Rusty. “Some of our staff incorporated a few personal touches as well. One staff member, when she delivers meals, she plays gospel music on the cart to brighten their day. She’s not just here to deliver your meal; she’s singing to them and doing extra stuff for them.”

It was a huge transition for their staff. According to Rusty, the staff really had to self-quarantine as well when not at work, to aid in keeping COVID out of the building. Oftentimes, they were forced to even be away from their own families, to continue to care for their newfound family back at work.

“I can’t say enough for the morale in the building during these trying times. Everyone has stayed upbeat for our residents,” shared Rusty. “In a sense, we become their only family. You know, we are the people that all of the residents see every day. The staff really stepped up, setting the bar a little bit higher and going that extra mile. We’ve not only become their caretakers, but their family.”

Raising that bar also raised a few hairs! With their usual hairdresser unable to visit the facility, the activities director and Rusty stepped up and helped residents with hair washing and drying. Rusty laughs, recalling their efforts at curling and styling, but was proud to report their residents were happy with the outcomes.

The “family” at The Homestead went one step further to help their residents connect with their real families again. The staff organized a drive-through parade where families decorated their vehicles and drove in front of the building. Each resident was allowed to come outside and visit with their loved ones through the car windows. The staff rose to the occasion, making sure each resident was ready and waiting in the wings to be brought outside to their awaiting family. 

The management team at The Homestead struggled to find the words to express what their staff meant to them during these challenging times.

“I want to say thank you,” said BJ Jennings, Administrator. “We are filled with gratitude because they are the heart and soul of what we do here. We literally can’t do it without them. We can’t find the right word or enough words to properly spread the gratitude that we have.” POV