An Ohio-based operator is reducing anxiety among facility staff members by running them through COVID drills as they prepare for the coronavirus pandemic. 

United Church Homes, which manages 14 long-term care and retirement communities through Ohio, has implemented COVID-19 drills to normalize the experience of having a COVID-positive resident. The drills allow staff members and managers to practice their protocols while wearing full personal protective gear.

The purpose of the practice was also also to address anxiety among staff members, Terry Spitznagel, United Church Homes senior vice president of chief growth officer, said.

“The biggest benefit is that it has helped ease the anxiety of staff 100 times over,” Spitznagel told LeadingAge. 

“They talk it through with each other, and after doing it [five] times they feel better. The fear of this virus is on us 100% of the time, so we have to mentally prepare ourselves for this. It makes sure we’re prepared, but it also helps the staff know that they can and will do this all together, and we’re ready,” he added. 

The drills aren’t the only thing the operator has introduced among facilities during the pandemic. 

It’s begun doing daily video conference calls to listen and answer any questions caregivers may have. Staff members are also being encouraged to view themselves as warriors during the pandemic as part of the organization’s “UCH Warrior” movement. The movement also calls for a $2 per hour pay raise for workers, free meals, and various competitions. 

Staff members can also been seen on Facebook showing off their warrior poses.

“This has shifted the narrative,” Spitznagel says. “Now it is, ‘We are warriors and we are going to take this on. We are on the front lines and we’ll fight it and we’ll beat it.’”