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BTG COVID-19 Ep. 12: Confidence & Calmness During Crisis with Industry Expert Rose Saenz

BTG COVID-19 Ep. 12: Confidence & Calmness During Crisis with Industry Expert Rose Saenz

This series is designed to provide resources, share the love stories and encourage those who are overseeing the care of aging adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in you!

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas on our special series dedicated to COVID-19. We are bringing people from the industry on our program to come and talk to you about the latest up to date information. And today I have a good friend of mine and operational icon here in Texas. We have Rose Saenz on the program. Welcome to the show.

Rose: Thank you. Glad to be here guys.

Lucas: We’re so glad that you’re here, Rose. You and I, we’ve kept in contact here in Texas for a while and you’ve worked for some big shops over the years. You got your career started very young in nursing at 19, and I’ve worked for companies like Brookdale and Silverado and some other operators. And you developed a wealth of information. You’ve continued to be pursuing education and different degrees. And now you’re using all of those tools to be the great problem solver that you are for your own consulting company, but also TALA, the Texas Assisted Living Association. 

So let’s go into a couple of things in the short time that we have here. Give us some feedback from the field about what you’re hearing and also the initiatives that you’re talking about at TALA as related to COVID-19.

Rose: Sure, well I mean, as we can all imagine, this is unprecedented. You know, this is an experience that none of us have ever gone through. And a bit overwhelming. The great news is that senior living, assisted living particularly has been prepared for to some degree with this. You know, working through trying to protect residents forever. You know, always looking at ways to protect them from the flu. From other, you know, they’ll have viruses and diseases that can easily, you know, compromise them and their wellbeing right now. There is a little bit more calmness as they’ve started to really adapt. And what I’m hearing from not only members of TALA but also from my own clients is a bit of comfort and confidence in their ability to handle this because of their love for their residents. And because of their feel of family and connection together, it’s different than being in a hospital where you just people coming in and out every day in our communities. The residents themselves, they’re family, they’re connected with the staff, they know them, they anticipate their needs. There’s so much already that they can prepare for and know how to properly care for them and protect them. 

So there’s concern as we all have, you know, we all need PPE. I think that’s something that’s extremely important. And we would probably all be fired tomorrow if we were asked to do the things that we’re being asked to do across the country today. You know, and we’re using masks and things of that nature. That’s not something that is normal in a standard PPE process. However, like I said, there’s, or trying to find resources or trying to help people to come together to give them confidence, share resources together that we can get through this. So, I’m hopeful. I really am.

Josh: Well, there’s so much to talk about Rose and in the few minutes we have with you you know, we talked that so much of this, the front lines is the team members giving them that confidence and calmness in times of crisis. And many of these communities have such great resources, many of them that are provided by organizations just like yours. But one of the key things is allowing that information to be communicated and be able to be updated in real time. Because like you said, it’s unprecedented. So oftentimes there has to be opportunity for innovation. And as we talk about innovation, one of the things that we were talking with you about before the show started was centered around the two way communication because a lot of times, you know, there’s great information that comes down from leadership to the team. 

But talk a little bit about the importance of back upstream and kind of this more horizontal play of communication to where there’s two ways and we are able to adapt more when we’re listening to the front lines.

Rose: Yeah, sure. And I’m sure if any people listening today had their share of experiences in many crisis situations in communities. And in my experience it’s always been amazing to sit down and do huddles with the staff right then and there be and be there in real time with them and say, okay guys, what’s going on? What are you experiencing? What do you think would be the solutions to help us? Because I think we all have really great intentions and we want to come and support the staff. But many times we’re like racking our brain. What is it that needs to be done? And the staff member has the answer. So we just need to give them the opportunity and ask. And I think many people do that now. It’s why I think, why we’re seeing a lot of success in areas too. And we’ve seen all those creative engagement things that are happening. You know, even though they’re social distancing, succeed apart, they’re not completely socially disconnected from their residence. And that’s innovation. I think that comes from the team on the ground, the boots on the ground. Some more of that helps to find solutions to problems. So highly encourage that type of connection with your staff on the front lines.

Josh: I love that. And so your team where you are is serving a lot of communities, a lot of team members providing resources, providing that calm. One of the things we love to talk about on this show is some of the good, cause there’s a lot of good happening right now and it’s the crisis emits all the things that you here that may be bad news on social media or that’s coming from the federal government. That’s scary sometimes. There’s so much positive going on right now. What are some of your favorite things that you’re hearing or seeing that’s happening?

Rose: Oh, the serenades to residents. Those are great. I’ve just seen so much and I follow other communities across the nation on social media because I just want to, you know, smile and, and see those residents, you know. Residents are resilient. It’s amazing to see them. They’ve been through so much in their lifetime. And so to them, this is like a piece of cake. They’re like, all right, just tell me what I need to do. And the staff come around and they just want to make them happy. They want to make them smile. So seeing those types of things that the dancing, the music that’s playing loud so that everybody can enjoy it from wherever they’re at and down the corridors or whether it’s, you know, on their balconies or whatever it may be.

And then the one-to-one connections where the staff are using their personal cell phones or devices to connect family members with the residents. Those are beautiful moments and those are their staff initiated. And then just take action right then in the air and, and keep connected. So those are some of my favorites. With TALA, we’ve started an initiative called #seniorshare to share those type of moments. And so if, if you guys see those pleads, you know, just hashtag them seniorshare along with any other hashtag you want to share the love. 

Lucas: So now transitioning onto that, your role at TALA at the association level. I think it’s very helpful for our audience and our listeners, you know, things are changing daily and me really hourly and I know that you’ve been a part of helping craft some checklists and just some initiatives there, but even the things that you have created, you know, just days ago have needed to be evolved. Can you speak to that and give some maybe some best practices to those out there that are trying to craft processes and procedures?

Rose: Sure, sure. The full intention of creating a COVID-19 preparation checklist was we created it on March 11th with input from different operators across the state that also operate across the country. And so it was very, very helpful to get all that input. And then of course, tying that in with all of your regulatory and guidance that’s out there. Some of it’s already outdated, you know, cause here we are, we’re on full lockdown. But then the rest of it, there is some key components within it that are just great little, okay, did I check that? Oh, I didn’t remember that. Oh, let me make sure I look at that one more time. So some organizations are really on top of this and have great resources and support for that. And then there’s other organizations that are maybe still feeling a little overwhelmed or they’re having other challenges that pulled them away from finding this information.

So it was an effort to be able to put all this together in a space that someone who is an assisted living operator in Texas could easily go to and find all those links and not have to search all CDC, the Texas DSHS, you know, all of those different lengths, not to mention their own regulatory provider letters that are coming out and changing constantly. So that is available TALA.org did post that and tries to keep it up to date. And there’s still really good information on there that can just help guide providers out there caring for their residents to just make sure that they just take one extra little step. Simple things to just like, okay, did we have somebody that’s contacting the families to keep them up to date? Like, that’s not something you want maybe your administrator to have to do because they’re dealing with everything else with the team trying to manage. So could you have somebody else on the team that feels comfortable to do that? Like, that’s, that’s great. Just give them that message and let them take care of that. It’s one less thing and you can divide and conquer that way.

Josh: Wow. Love it. So many great resources. So many great ideas. Thank you for what you and your team are doing at TALA to support the heroes in the communities. There’s still so many love stories being produced, probably more than ever right now during this time of crisis, thanks to the frontline heroes that we celebrate on this show. And like you, those serenades are fun to watch. We’ve already had one of those on our show from an executive director so fun to watch. And I know we will in our show notes connect our listeners and our viewers to what you guys are doing there. What a well-rounded history our viewer should be able to get about 12 minutes of CE credits from this episode.

Rose: Yes, I hope so. 

Lucas: Rose, an awesome interview. Thank you so much for spending time to come on our show and thank you, you’ve been a supporter of bridge that gap since the beginning. You really have been a champion for us. We really, really appreciate that. 

Rose: No, I appreciate what you guys are doing and spreading the word your reach is amazing and I’m hoping that that reach gets further out to the front lines. Because I, I’ve been on the front lines and I appreciate the knowledge and the gift that you’re giving. So thank you to both of you for all you do, and Sara. 

Lucas: We accept it. Thank you so much for spending time and thank you to our listeners. This is an important time for us to be together in the best way that we can. Where even though it feels, you know, that we’re distant, we need to stick together and let you know that we believe in you. We believe in the hard work of what you’re doing. It matters. And we hope that this has provided some encouragement to you today and we hope you have a very blessed day. We’re thinking about you and we’re praying for you and thanks for listening to another episode of Bridge the Gap.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Bridge the Gap podcast, the COVID-19 series. If you are company, community or caregivers are going above and beyond in their daily duties, we want to hear about it. Tag @BTGvoice on social media, or send us a message btgvoice.com.

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