A team of 20 staff members at the Institute of Living met in the parking lot May 15 and festooned their vehicles with balloons, streamers and messages of support for patients in their Child & Adolescent Day Program and Extended Day Program. A parade was in the works.
“Depression and anxiety are on the rise, but our kids don’t have to be socially isolated,” said Melissa Deasy, Program Manager. “We need to remind them of that. We have built strong therapeutic relationships with our youth. This parade is a celebration for our kids, to let them know we believe in them!”
The vehicles formed a caravan that would take them to the homes of 15 to 20 of their patients.
The parade was the brainchild of Vanity Smith, a program caseworker. Her daughter’s school organized a similar parade and Vanity thought it would be a great way to connect with, and celebrate, the children and teens in the IOL programs.
With horns honking and passengers yelling out the windows, they approached their first stop, where mom Ashley Rodriguez and her son, Nathan, were waiting. Nathan is a patient in the program and was thrilled to see the team.
“It’s been hard to be isolated,” said Ashley. “This lifted Nathan’s spirits. When we saw them coming, we were happy and cried tears of joy.”
Because of COVID-19, the program has been using telehealth for nearly two months to communicate with patients. The program manager, clinical supervisor, administrative assistant, clinicians, caseworkers and psychiatrists were excited to plan and participate in the parade, which provided them a lift, too.
The team has been working hard to maintain connections with their patients during the pandemic. Teams have delivered care packages to patients that include activities for siblings, too. There have been pizza deliveries to families, all designed to support patients and their loved ones during a very difficult time. The staff has also started parent support groups during the week, understanding that parents are struggling as well.
The parade was one more way to offer hope and a feeling of connectedness to patients, and by all accounts, the mission was a success.
“It meant a lot. It made us cry! It showed that you guys really care,” said an emotional Rodriguez, who had a special message for the team at IOL. “Thank you for helping my son to get better. I just want to say, ‘Thank you.’”
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