Staying Connected and Engaged at the Witherell

Besides all the steps we’ve taken to keep Witherell residents healthy during the COVID-19 emergency, our social workers, therapeutic recreation staff, and volunteer director have stepped up to the plate and are pouring their hearts into creating new routines and engaging activities for our residents.

“Our dedicated therapeutic recreation staff is continuing to provide mentally stimulating programs and ways to stay connected to the community,” says Carissa Ronish, therapeutic recreation administrator. “Recreation is localized by floor and includes individual activities like trivia quizzes, puzzle making and art.  One on one music therapy continues, and frequent supportive conversations with our residents are maintained.”

To help fill the void of family connections while visitors are restricted, Carissa Ronish, the Witherell’s therapeutic recreation administrator, is setting up Face Time calls for families of long-term residents. To make an appointment, call Carissa at (203) 618-4205.

Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Tate, is also getting creative. She’s currently reaching out to volunteers for videos of pet therapy pets, musical performances, Bible study, and special greetings to share with our residents.

The residents seem to be enjoying it all and notice that while their routines may have changed, the joy and commitment of our staff hasn’t. “Everyone at the Witherell has done an exemplary job of providing quality care to our residents,” says the Witherell’s Interim Director, Joanne Kotulski. “We are so proud of all their efforts to keep our precious senior citizens healthy and safe.”

Of course, we’re also keeping the lines of communication open. “Last week, we met with every resident to offer support and gave residents a chance to discuss any concerns,” says Justine Vaccaro, director of social work at the Witherell.

“We talked about how this current situation compares to past challenges they’ve experienced. Remember that many of our residents also lived through the Great Depression or World Wars! Overall, they’re handling this well, they understand the need for restricting visitors, and most just express concern for their families.”

As we all adjust to this “new normal” – at least for the time being – one thing hasn’t changed: warm smiles and kind words. Those are often the best way to weather any challenge. Luckily, the Witherell has an endless supply of both.




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