Some of the positive feedback that led to Pacifica Senior Living Vacaville being a Caring Star of 2021 includes:
Pacifica Seior Living Vacaville has been named the best Memory Care community in Solano County in 2020—and for the third year in a row! At Pacifica, we take immense pride in the work that we do in providing a place that our senior residents are more than happy to call home, and in the positive impact we have in our larger communities. We wouldn't be where we are without the wonderful residents and team members and the people of Vacaville, and for that, we want to give our thanks to all of you. We could not have done this without you!
The rise of COVID-19 threw a wrench into most social establishments around the world. Restaurants closed, gyms retired their equipment into storage and concert venues questioned if they’d ever hose a performance again.
While these disappointing impacts of the virus certainly affected Vacaville’s ability to gather as a community, many fortunate residents were still able to keep close to what mattered most: Family.
However, the ability to stay in touch with loved ones proved more difficult for others.
Even before the pandemic, the team at Pacifica Senior Living played a significant role in keeping Vacaville families connected. As one of the senior living communities in the city specializing in exclusively serving individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss, the caregivers at Pacifica host 75 residents who call the location home.
“All the communities do their best to provide a wonderful environment, but this one is just different,” said Melody Allmond, executive director at Pacifica Senior Living Vacaville. “I’ve had experience working in several different layouts, but so far, I think I’m enjoying this one the most.”
Different, indeed. Reminiscent of a cul-de-sac, Pacifica’s Vacaville location is made up of cottages and a courtyard that residents are allowed to enjoy when they please. Paired with regular activities and opportunities for family visits, Pacifica’s amenities and services seem like they were a diamond in the rough—until COVID struck and made it all the more challenging.
“Now, it’s much more restricted,” Melody said. “They are limited to being more in their house…we try to maintain social distancing by keeping the residents in their own group instead of co-mingling with the residents at other cottages.”
With residents ranging between 62 and 97 years old, all at different stages of dementia, there’s no doubt that Pacifica had an uphill battle when protecting its vulnerable residents from the virus. Despite all odds, the Vacaville location can proudly say they haven’t had a single case of COVID within the living community.
Melody said she contributes such success to one main factor: Diligence.
“The staff is very aware of the risks,” she said. “Sometimes, that means we have to tell one of the staff to say home until we can make sure they don’t have COVID-positive test. I think our overall protocol about cleaning and washing hands and wearing a mask is key.”
To maintain protocol, Pacifica staff are required to complete a screening at the start of their shifts and wear a mask properly, according to Melody. If their temperature and blood oxygen levels are normal, they’re given a pass that allows them to enter the facility. Additional healthcare visitors, such as hospice nurses and physicians, must also follow guidelines before entering.
“Residents are also checked daily,” Melody said. “All of that is recorded to make sure we don’t have any spikes in temperature, shortness of breath…any of the symptoms.”
As social distancing efforts and health precautions recommended from the CDC continue to shape the way Vacaville families connect, the ability to see distant loved ones remains a challenge—one that the residents of Pacifica Senior Living are no stranger to dealing with.
Window, FaceTime and phone call visits are now the norm at Pacifica, allowing residents to experience at least some semblance of normalcy when talking with their family. Facebook has also become a primary source of connection, with multiple posts being uploaded throughout the week, according to Melody.
“As the executive director, I’m trying to make sure that I’m communicating with the families what’s new in the community to keep them connected,” Melody said. “I’ve been holding family meetings via Zoom, which has been good since it gives them the opportunity as a group to ask questions—I give them a COVID update once a month, or more frequently if needed. I think it’s helped our communication as well.”
While all healthcare communities worldwide dealt with challenges from COVID, a memory care community like Pacifica had a unique set of obstacles to overcome.
“We’re taking care of people, and that’s all about touch,” Melody said. “When you’re taking care of residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, just imagine their first impression when they’re seeing everybody with a mask on. In the beginning, I’m sure it was a little alarming for them. They’re more accustomed to it now since it’s what’s normal.”
Despite the hardships both residents and family members faced on account of COVID restrictions, it appears the team effort at Pacifica has succeeded in easing most of their worries by maintaining the best care and safety precautions possible. While the inability to see a parent, spouse or child is a terrible experience for anyone, family members of Pacifica residents can at least feel secure knowing their loved ones are in good hands.
“I think that they have exercised the utmost patience and understanding with the situation,” Melody said. “I’m very appreciative of that because it has been a tough time for everyone. I can’t imagine how they’re feeling.”
While the unpredictable effects of COVID may have thrown normal operations askew, it’s clear that Pacifica isn’t letting the pandemic get in the way of providing residents with experiences they can look forward to each day. Even if altered to promote safety, fun activities continue to occur, and staff are still present to provide residents with care.
“I think the takeaway is that, even with all of the restrictions, our community continues to thrive. We still continue to make every day as normal as possible,” Melody said. “I think that’s what we’re all here for, to try to make the daily lives of our residents as full as possible.”
As if they weren’t doing enough, Pacifica’s efforts to enhance its own community simultaneously serve the people of Vacaville. When Halloween approaches, the location plans to host a car and costume parade that will circle the facility’s perimeter, allowing residents to view the festivities from the safety of their living room windows. Members of the community who participate will receive a treat in return.
Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, either, as the location recently won first place in The Reporter’s Best of 2020 Award—their third year in a row. It’s an honor they couldn’t be more grateful for, and Melody hopes the citizens of Solano County know how much Pacifica appreciates their support.
Of course, none of it would be possible without the gracious contributions from Pacifica’s team members. From keeping facilities clean to helping residents cope with the difficulties brought on by COVID, Pacifica Senior Living’s Vacaville healthcare workers have proven vital to the safety of their community.
“We do appreciate them,” Melody said. “Saying thank you goes a long way.”
Without a doubt, it’s a thank you to the team members of Pacifica, wholeheartedly deserved.