The season of warmer weather is approaching and brings with it more opportunities for residents and staff members at Atchison Senior Village to emerge from the pandemic doldrums and increase interaction with loved ones.

For most residents it an interaction that has been lacking for more than a year due to the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The county-run residential care facility has re-opened its doors a little wider to allow family and friends to visit in person with residents with certain guidelines and restrictions. Despite the pandemic and lack of in-person visits from family and friends residing outside the facility, Senior Village staff managed to take certain avenues to keep residents engaged.

One of these was a cabana implemented in August of 2020 via conversion of a gazebo initially outdoors was relocated indoors in early December. The cabana is a germ-free enclosure located in the corner of great hall that somewhat allows an indirect contact for residents to visit with loved ones from loved ones. The cabana is equipped with two windows, each with two sanitary glove openings. Visitors, by appointment are able to access the cabana via an exterior door. Sr. Village residents can reach in through the gloved opening and make sanitized hand contact with their visitors as they are enclosed inside the cabana.

Highlights for some residents have been pen pal relationships they’ve formed with youngsters through the Boys and Girls Club. Tinch said the relationships have been ongoing throughout the past several weeks. The letters have been sent, and residents responded.

Under the leadership of Administrator Haley Tinch, the facility has expanded visitation opportunities on March 29 during certain times and at certain locations in the facility. In the meantime there were some activities offered to residents to keep them engaged with interests outside the facilities. Church services in the chapel resumed the same day.

Tinch explained contact with animals is often is very therapeutic and calming for people during stressful times like the quarantine and seclusion associated with the pandemic. At Senior Village there are two box turtles that reside in their specially made shelter located in the garden area, Tinch said. some residents enjoy looking out a large window and watching the turtles and other wildlife in the garden. An eight-bird population mostly comprised of house finches and a couple of doves reside in an indoor aviary at Senior Village.

There are residents who like to gather each morning to hear the birds sing, Tinch said. Angel is a white bunny that frequently visits the facility. A staff member brings baby goats in to visit with the residents.

Residents have also visited a staff member’s farm to see the animals in the barnyard.

These interactions are mentally stimulating for residents who have had resided on farms or who have had pets, Tinch said it helps them recall their experiences.

The large fish tank is another popular gathering spot for residents is located near the main entrance, Tinch said. The fish are very calming to watch.

Outdoor visitation is restricted to the gazebo near the cabana.

Visitation times by appointment are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. No visitations on Wednesdays to allow for deep cleaning and disinfecting of the facility. Visitations will take place inside the facility in the fish tank room or the cabana. To schedule visits, contact Tinch, Sandra Faudere or Mandy Hanson at 913-367-1905 between Mondays and Fridays.

Visitors will be screened for coronavirus signs and symptoms before entrance into the facility; the facility will provide a mask and use hand sanitizer before and after visits. Visitors will be directed to their designated visit area – staff will bring residents to their loved ones to the designated area. Although physical contact is allowed, remain six feet apart as much as possible.

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