September 1, 2020
The elephant is widely considered a symbol of good luck, wisdom, and protection. With that in mind, Monticello West senior living community in Dallas launched its Monty Strong initiative, with Monty, the elephant as its mascot. The program promotes the community’s collective strength in working tirelessly towards the well-being of its residents.
Starting last spring, COVID-19 became a very real risk to everyone, and especially to vulnerable older adults. It was a challenge as the Monticello team began working hard in order to adhere to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and federal public health agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the World Health Organization, their management company Life Care Services, and infectious disease experts.
Josie Winland, executive director of Monticello, said that changes in protocols demanded cooperation from her dedicated, hardworking staff, as well as from residents and their family members. “Everyone has had to adapt to new practices and procedures in order to keep our residents safe.”
Josie explained, “It has been challenging, especially during the early stages of the pandemic, as experts tried to understand how tenacious and contagious the virus is. I’ve been amazed and in awe of the staff and their strong and courageous response. Since the very beginning, our team has continued to show up during this unprecedented time, juggling their own personal lives and responsibilities, rolling up their sleeves and doing whatever needed to be done with the sole focus of caring for the residents they love. They continue to inspire me.”
Monty Strong was launched to show support for the unity of the staff. Signs saying We are Strong and Heroes Work Here have decorated the building’s entranceway for the staff. Monty Strong t-shirts have been given to the staff. There are also demonstrations of appreciation through special treats and celebrations. “I’ve shared with them a note saying, ‘We are Monty. We are strong, stubborn, full of wisdom, and luck. We embody the true spirit of Monticello West.” She added that in addition to the t-shirts, pictures of Monty the elephant appear on staff communications and throughout the building.
As importantly as supporting the team, Monty Strong is designed to inspire the team. “We know that we’ll continue to have challenging times ahead. Our team needs to keep on keeping on. I’m told that when the staff wears the Monty-Strong t-shirt, they are showing that we are showing that we all believe in the best possible resident care. We inspire each other by wearing the shirt. It brings a new bounce to our step and a renewed strength and enthusiasm for what we do. It also demonstrates our unity; that the entire staff in all departments and at all levels, are united in their dedication.”
Josie said that the residents and their families have also shown patience and tenacity. “For several months, the residents were staying safe within their apartments,” she said. “They are still depending on technology or window visits to see their loved ones, and our activities and opportunities to get together have been modified in order to maintain social distancing. It’s been tough on them, and they’ve shown such strength.” They have supported Monty Strong and in fact, are integral to its success.
“The Monticello team is the embodiment of compassionate care, and they are definitely heroes. Although there are anxiety and fear within every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, they continue to come and care for our residents, trying new and creative ways to keep them safe, engaged, and connected. We are Monty Strong,” said Josie.