Memory Care communities have been hit hard with all of the current restrictions and new guidelines put in place in order to maintain COVID-19 free communities. Considering the population and the risks, this is something that needs to be done. However, the residents suffer due to this because their daily activities have been halted for the most part.  Some communities have placed activities on the back-burner, which has led to increased isolation of residents (which causes some severe wellness issues on it’s own). Others have adapted, began thinking “outside the box”, and are incorporating types of engagements that not only provide joy and interaction, but also boost resident (and staff) morale. Gurnee Place in Gurnee, Illinois is one of those communities.


Located at 505 Hunt Club Road in Gurnee, IL, Gurnee Place has recently been acquired by American Healthcare Management Group, which is  family owned and operated. When we (Meridian Health Care) approached the community with our idea to work together to provide joy to their residents and provide some pet therapy, they were all ears. We worked together and discussed how it can be done while maintaining infection control protocols. We would all wear our masks, use alcohol based hand sanitizer frequently, and host the event outside of the community’s doors. We planned the logistics for a week and on Friday August 21st, it was go time.  Steve Rainsford (Meridian’s Account Executive) brought his pet dove “Doyle”  for the event, while Gurnee Place’s Executive Director Lisa Schmidt brought “Penny” the dog. Below are photos:

As you can see, the residents are engaged and enjoying themselves, as did Lisa, the Executive Director, and Darlene, the Director of Nursing:

Lisa with Doyle


Darlene with Doyle


We had a blast partnering with Gurnee Place in order to bring pet therapy to their residents. This is an example of adapting to the current circumstances in order to bring “normalcy” to a community that has residents in need of interaction for their overall well-being. This also is “the norm” at Gurnee Place, as a few of their recent Facebook posts show:



Thank you to the wonderful staff and residents at Gurnee Place. We enjoyed spending the morning with you.

And while he came prepared, Doyle the dove ended up not having to wear his N95 respirator.


It’s photoshopped, don’t worry