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Ontario care homes find creative way to connect amid COVID-19 lockdown

Nursing home residents share messages with their loved ones through social media.
WATCH: As COVID-19 forces nursing homes into lockdown, staff and residents are finding other ways to connect with the ones they love.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, drastic measures have been put in place to protect those most vulnerable.

Nursing homes and senior care centres across the country have been put under lockdown, which means visits with family and friends have been put on hold.

READ MORE: How to protect seniors home residents during coronavirus outbreak

But that hasn’t stopped long-term care residents near Kingston, Ont., from connecting with family and friends.

Residents at Helen Henderson Care Centre in Amherstview, and Gananoque’s Carveth Nursing Home have written personalized messages on pieces of paper which were then posted on social media by centre staff.

“This project was just a way to connect the residents with their families and friends. The families are very much missing them,” says Shannon Buell, the activity director for Carveth Nursing Home.

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Buell said she saw the idea on social media and decided to try it with her residents.

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Some messages express love, and others are quite humorous.  One message reads, “The Blue Jays re-runs are getting boring.”  Others say they are doing well, eating good meals and knitting lots, while another asks a loved-one to send more coffee.

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“She actually used to work at a Tim Hortons, so it’s super special. But we did have a complete stranger come to the doors and left a Tim Hortons gift card for her,” says Buell.

Buell says they’ve received lots of positive feedback from family, friends and people from the community.

One family member even taped a note to her mother’s window that says “Mom, I love you.”

“Every night she does come to visit her mom through the window,” Buell says. “So they have that communication, being able to see each other.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal seniors defying Quebec’s order to stay home during COVID-19 pandemic

For many elderly residents who already struggle with loneliness, the complete ban on visitors is a massive blow — and caretakers are trying to maintain daily routines to keep seniors active.

“The programs are still happening in the home. We’ve had to re-vamp them slightly but we’re trying to make life as normal as possible for them,” says Buell.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: How long can Canadians expect to be social distancing?

For those concerned about relatives living in a nursing home or long term care facility, Buell says don’t be afraid to reach out and check-in. FaceTime and Skype are great options, but the easiest form of communication is to pick up the phone and call.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend social distancing, frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.