The last 10 months have been extraordinarily challenging, both personally and professionally. Many have lost colleagues, friends and family, and even more have gone through significant emotional and financial difficulties due to the pandemic. We’ve seen our country endure divisive politics and social turmoil and thought hard on what we truly need to move forward as a society. Most importantly, we’ve learned how to support each other, and to listen.
Here are five important lessons we’ve learned and how we plan to use them to ensure a better year ahead, coinciding with our 25th anniversary.
- The mental health of America is at stake.Fear and worry about health, financial situations or jobs, the loss of support services, and social isolation have caused Americans to experience stress, anxiety and depression to unseen levels. Policy makers are beginning to understand the importance of caring for those individuals who are experiencing mental health conditions, nonetheless, we will need to work collectively to provide excellent mental health care. To do this, we are actively searching for more clinicians, device technicians, and psychiatrists to ensure that we meet the mental healthcare needs of residents.
- Partnership is everything.In July, we reached out to 250 contacts at partner facilities and asked them what they valued about our team’s work. The findings were very positive: over 97.8% of responding partners say EMH’s clinical psychology and neuropsychology clinicians meet or exceed expectations, 95.7% say their liaison meets or exceeds their expectations, and 97.9% of partners say we meet their needs during survey. We will continue to focus on our partnerships with new continuing education offerings, with our support of industry associations like Alzheimer’s Los Angeles and CAHF, and by listening closely to SNF’s evolving needs in 2021.
- Telehealth is here to stay.In the same partners survey, 71% of our partner facilities did not use telehealth before March of this year. Today, we have tablets deployed and working in 62% of our partner facilities and have carried out some 25,000 sessions since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ll continue to support our partner facilities with Telehealth and eventually with in-person visits, and in a way that works best for all concerned.
- Communication is key in times of crisis.Social distancing made us rethink social and professional interaction and challenged us to keep connected. Instead of face-to-face meetings, we tapped into twice daily video calls, made active outreach to our facility partners, contributed to industry thought pieces, and worked with mental health advocates to support the cause, something we’ll continue to do in our 25th anniversary year.
- We are all in this together.More than ever, 2020 allowed us to take a close look at the needs of our local communities and provoked us to examine how we could help. We are excited to be working on a unique partnership for our 25th anniversary year which will recognize EMH’s close relationships with skilled nursing facilities and inspire both an appreciation of and an optimistic outlook for seniors.
For all of EMH’s friends, partners and colleagues, thank you for working tirelessly throughout the past year – if there ever was a test of fire for a 25th anniversary, it was 2020. Good news is, together we can make 2021 a year of celebration.