Amy Dempsey | Vice President of the Resident Experience, Georgian Lakeside Senior Living Community
Some people are born knowing what they want to do. Amy Dempsey, Vice President of the Resident Experience at Georgian Lakeside Senior Living Community, is one of those people. “From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a caregiver,” Amy says. She went on to study nursing at the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, working in many specialties including oncology, case management, and infusion and IV therapy. Her step into senior care came in 2015, when another community was in need of a Health & Wellness Director. “I’ve always had a soft spot for seniors,” she admits, having moved into her current role at Georgian Lakeside in December of last year.
Amy’s community, like many others, went into lockdown in late March to help protect the health of their residents. However, social interaction is a vital part of senior care, especially for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Which, according to Amy, is about half of her residents. “We use the term social distancing, but I have seen it more as being social isolation,” she explains. “Depression and overall decline has been evident.” Since the start of the pandemic, her community has experienced a 25% increase in hospice care. “It has been devastating to watch.”
To combat this problem Amy and her staff have worked hard to implement more activities and ways to keep residents active and engaged including dance, games, even just a little more one-on-one time. Families have also suffered from being apart, so Amy has given out her personal cell number to resident families so that they have been able to FaceTime their loved ones. In addition to emotional care, Amy has increased her efforts to keep an eye on routine care as well, advocating for medically necessary treatments such as dentistry, physical therapy and other health visits that have been hard to facilitate with the stringent protocols in place for seniors. She has also started tracking the weights of her residents, loss of appetite being a sign of depression, and providing them with more calorie-dense snacks like tacos and milkshakes. “A little bit of ice cream never hurt anybody,”she adds.
As for the future, Amy believes that COVID testing and wearing masks may become routine in her industry, “just like skin TB tests.”
When things go back to a closer ‘normal’ than the seven past months have been, Amy plans to reschedule her vacation to Mexico with her girlfriends, but says “… even a trip to Helen sounds good right about now.”