Since the start of the shelter-in-place order, Peninsula Volunteers Inc. (PVI) has continued to provide essential services to seniors living on the Peninsula. We are responding to the crisis in a number of ways.
On March 16, in accordance with the governor’s executive order, we suspended services at Rosener House, our adult day care facility serving people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia and at Little House, our adult activity center. Our third program, Meals on Wheels, is deemed an essential service and efforts focused on enhanced methods and increased capacity to meet the accelerating needs of our community’s most vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
Entering our 10th week under these conditions, PVI is delivering close to 700 meals per day. All nutritional meals are prepared, cooked, packed, and sent out from our commercial kitchen located at Little House, in Menlo Park. We have changed our operational layout and implemented protective measures to ensure the highest possible safety for our staff, volunteers, and clients. We changed the delivery process to allow for a “zero contact” meal delivery.
Meals on Wheels isn’t the only program that is up and running for PVI. Shortly after closing our Rosener House and Little House programs to the public, we began working toward virtual programming. We are keeping people connected.
Caregivers are often the most overlooked group when it comes to services for people living with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. For them it is a 24/7 experience. Our Rosener House adult day services allow families to keep their loved ones at home while also being able to provide a day program that cares for and engages participants in activities designed to stimulate the brain and body. It allows for much needed respite for the caregiver. Rosener House provides a weekly support group made up of current and past participants’ family members. While these programs are closed to the public due to the pandemic, people are left without respite or support. We promptly remedied that.
The staff quickly mobilized and began weekly “wellness checks” calls to our participants and set up Zoom meetings for the caregiver support group. PVI rapidly adapted to the “new normal” by launching “Rosener House At Home.” Staff developed online classes and activities for participants to do with loved ones from the safety of their homes: singalongs, yoga, trivia, and tango classes. The feedback about these services has been overwhelmingly positive from our participants’ families. As the weeks go on, we will continue to enhance the experience for all our users.
At Little House, we introduced online offerings for active adults. Staff is also conducting wellness check phone calls to close to 1,000 of our members. Being isolated and alone can be very hard, and it helps to hear the familiar voice of one of our staff members. Through our website, people can now sign up for online classes such as tai chi, hatha yoga, chair yoga, pilates, and book club. Customized 1:1 personal training sessions are available from the safety and comfort of your own home. Our great lecture series will start soon.
We have more exciting news. PVI’s transportation service has started providing rides to seniors for medical appointments and to the grocery store to have greater access to food resources. This launch includes added protective protocols for both the drivers and seniors.
Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. is swiftly adapting to the conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our mission-centered commitment is enduring - provide daily, nutritious meals, adult day care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and vital health and wellness activities to seniors living on the Peninsula. We are confident that PVI’s robust response to the crisis positions us well for recovery over the coming weeks and months. The affirmation of our work is humbling, and the dedication of essential staff and outpouring of support from community volunteers and donors is heartwarming to all of us and to the vulnerable, homebound seniors we serve. It is more important than ever to offer grateful thanks for the extraordinary generosity of our community friends and neighbors. If you have not already done so, we ask that you consider a gift to support and enhance our enhanced services and recovery. Your gift, no matter the size, will help us sustain our vital programs in the new environment. Visit penvol.org/donate/.
Peter Olson is the CEO of Menlo Park-based Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.