by John Kotsatos, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Jody LaVerdure, Director of Development and Community Relations
“When COVID-19 hit back in March, we quickly adapted to the rapidly changing environment. What we’ve found is that we want to keep some of the new ways of doing things, as they add a lot to our community,” says John. “Three areas that will be even more integral to our culture moving forward: communication, virtual programming and volunteering.
The Strength of Communication
“We were already in the process of integrating Caremerge into our community, but when the pandemic hit in March, our team worked tirelessly to get the system up and running quickly,” John says. “We immediately sent out forms to residents, and they gave us the contact information for their family members that wanted to stay in the loop. We have over 900 family members participating now.”
One key aspect of Caremerge is regular messages from Meadowood’s president and CEO, Paul Nordeman. “Every Tuesday, Paul gives a broadcast to our residents, and we want to be able to communicate it to our family members as well, so we post a video of the broadcast that night,” says Jody. “We also include a script, so families can read the exact wording of what was in the broadcast.”
“Family members might have questions, and they are able to ask them at any time on the app,” she explains. “I respond back to them quickly or send them to the appropriate person, so they actually get a phone call from a department head. They feel like their message is heard.”
“It helps with the transparency,” Jody continues. “Some other communities aren’t doing this, and family members are left in the dark.”
“We will definitely continue this form of communication after COVID-19 is over,” says John.
“We get lots of kudos from family members,” Jody goes on. “They just really appreciate the timely communication. A family member in California can get the broadcast update soon after it airs. They might even read it before their loved one does. . It’s pretty amazing.”
One comment from a family member:
I cannot possibly tell you what a wonderful tool the Caremerge App has been for me. I have either read or watched Paul’s weekly updates, and they have been extremely helpful. They answer so many questions right off the bat, and if I had a question, Jody has been amazing at the speed at which she has contacted the appropriate personnel, and they have all gotten back to me, practically the same day! I sincerely wish that all of the Senior Living places had the availability to use this app. Thank you for all of that information, and also for doing your best to keep Meadowood residents safe and healthy! You all are doing an AWESOME job dealing with this, and are treating family members like myself with kindness and respect!
“Besides Paul’s weekly broadcast, we also hold virtual town halls and Q&A sessions,” John says. “Residents can call in ahead and send questions in emails.”
Virtual Programming — from Game Shows to Spiritual Services
“Meadowood also makes good use of our closed-circuit television channel, which highlights special announcements and livestreams programs,” says John. “Once we get back to where we want to be with programs in dedicated spaces, there is still going to be that desire to provide offerings virtually.
“We’ve always held Dine & Discovers, where prospective residents could experience our community in person,” he explains. “But some people find virtual events less intimidating than coming into the community, so we’re going to continue to offer them.”
“We’re also going to continue to offer virtual programs for residents, especially the ones that have really taken off,” John continues. “For instance, the ‘Name that Tune’ game show has been a big hit — we found it during COVID, and it’s so much fun that we’re going to find a way to keep it going.”
“Residents are a very big part of actually running the virtual programs, especially Continuing Resident Education at Meadowood (CREAM) programs, from Sunday afternoon movies to the Meadowood Morning Show,” says John.
“Virtual fitness classes will continue, too. If residents can’t get to a class on Monday at 11 a.m., they can hop on afterwards, when it fits into their schedule,” says Jody. “Some residents also may prefer to participate in their homes.”
“Residents have been so complimentary about how well we’ve been able to communicate,” John says, “and about how we’ve been able to modify how we’ve been able to deliver services. For instance, we expanded dining, and offered mini-grocery stores that allowed residents to get essential things. A lot of worry was lifted from their shoulders.”
A Surge in Volunteering
“Although volunteer efforts have always been strong, residents are participating even more,’” John says. “Residents came to us and they really jumped in and took over some things for us that helped a lot: delivering packages and menus, working the screening desk … they just really wanted to help.”
“It’s just amazing to see how much that participation has grown during the pandemic,” Jody agrees. “It really has strengthened our bond and brought us even closer. Residents really wanted to be a part of us getting through this. It’s been really cool to see that.”
“From new ways of communicating to virtual programming to expanded volunteer roles, there have been some silver linings to the pandemic,” says John. “We’re looking forward to keeping the innovations and making Meadowood even stronger moving forward.”