The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Team, within the Social Work and Community Health Department (SWaCH) at Rush, has turned its many in-person programs for older adults and caregivers into virtual programs.
These include workshops and exercise classes through Zoom, mini-lectures on Facebook and YouTube, support groups via conference calls and more.
The team has also collaborated to develop other initiatives as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the following:
- Friendly weekly calls: SWaCH, together with Rush medical students, organized the friendly weekly calls initiative as a way to lessen social isolation and loneliness for older adults on the West Side. Volunteers are trained to make these calls and to refer people to additional resources as necessary, reinforcing our commitment to serving the needs of the community.
- A telephone support group: Led by licensed social workers, this group addresses the isolation individuals are experiencing. Called "Coping and Connection in the Time of COVID," this support group provides an opportunity for emotional connection and support. It takes place every Wednesday and Friday and is open to Rush patients, families and community members free of charge. The group has been growing from week to week, with participants openly sharing their challenges and strengths. These are some examples:
- "I wake up thankful every day that I can get out of bed, and I say, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' I am thankful that I can get up and do something. I feel appreciation."
- "I tell stories to my granddaughter about the old days when I was growing up, and she asks questions and wants to hear more."
- "It's been a little rough, not being able to do what I used to do. Sometimes I get a little bored. But I do what I need to do and feel satisfied. I focus on things to keep me busy, housework, etc. and I do a little bit every day."
- "I am doing great during COVID. This is because I have been homebound for several years (due to diagnosis) and neighbors are dropping off meals, our kids call all the time and my spouse is working from home. I love the company. I take medication for this, but even my mood has improved."
As we continue to adjust to this new normal, throughout the process, professionals at Rush are working as a team to engage with the community and ignite core social work values: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the individual, importance and centrality of human relationships, integrity and competence.