One Day At A Time
As a Direct Support Professional, hugs are a favorite part of the job. They are one of the things that Michelle Doan, DSP for TECH, looks forward to daily. When COVID-19 started to escalate in early 2020 and TECH began implementing policies to help keep people served and the staff safe, one of the hardest adjustments was not being able to give or receive hugs in the houses. “Learning how to not be in each other’s space and no longer giving hugs, but fist bumps only, was one of the hardest things in our house,” says Michelle.
In March 2020, TECH made the decision to have the residents and staff at each home ‘shelter in place’ as a precautionary measure. “I was nervous,” says Michelle. “I had a daughter that I pulled out of school due to heart problems and while I feared COVID and the possibility of taking it home to my daughter, I was also scared of the thought of not being able to see the clients that I had bonded with. I wanted to be able to check in on them, see them and make sure they were alright.” Michelle was one of the many front-line heroes of TECH that stepped up and agreed to work at a residential house that had been exposed to COVID, which came with its own set of challenges.
“Our house has bonded and become so much closer because of our time cooped up together. I feel like everyone here is part of my family.”
“We had to be diligent about keeping those who were exposed to and/or infected with COVID separated from those who hadn’t had COVID,” says Michelle. This may sound like an easy task but as one of the few and sometimes only person working in the house, it was difficult at times. Michelle frequently had to come up with activities to stay busy, to stay separated, scheduling mealtime in shifts that started as early as 10:00AM and having to find ways to be social from a distance. They painted, did arts and crafts, went outside as much as possible, played a lot of games and watched as many scary movies (a house favorite) that they could fit in! If someone had an idea – Michelle tried it!
Even though it was challenging at times, Michelle looks back on the last year and realizes there are a lot of positives that came out of their time in quarantine. “Our house has bonded and become so much closer because of our time cooped up together. I feel like everyone here is part of my family,” said Michelle.
While Michelle worked in a COVID exposed house, she said she was amazed that she never actually got COVID as it had been through the house a few times. “I am now more aware of my surroundings,” says Michelle. She jokes, “I am sort of a germ freak now.” While she hopes that the house does not have to experience the ‘shelter in place’ like they did previously, she is grateful for her time at Landon and all of the steps that TECH took to keep both the people served and staff as safe as possible during a time of great uncertainty. “We had a good team of people working together and our priority was being here for the clients. I made a lot of good friends during my time here.”