Communication is vital in our world and the failure to communicate well is complicated when your community is under a protective lockdown. Our health and safety here at Kendal at Granville have been very successfully preserved but it has come at the cost of communal interaction. For many the socialization and activities of a continuing care residential association were among the primary reasons for joining such a community. Thus in this world of coronavirus, when communal dining, entertainment, and activities are suspended for the health and well being of residents, the community is faced with new problems. How do we maintain some degree of communication and engagement? Options are somewhat limited but we have tried to utilize a bit of creativity.
Like most institutions and businesses ZOOM conferencing has become a regular aspect of day to day socialization. The Executive Director usually has a Town Hall meeting twice a month. In those meetings a variety of themes are presented and discussions/questions from residents make for lively exchange. For residents who do not sign into ZOOM a telecast of the meeting is broadcast the following day on the TV feed that all residents can access. The Residents’ Council also has ZOOM meetings twice a month and various clubs and interest groups also utilize this popular venue. On the TV feed alluded to above special music presentations from Denison University and local fine artists have also been shared with the community.
Another effort to engage residents revolved around the establishment of weekly telephone contacts between a member of the administration and each resident. When those weekly conversations discovered that some individuals might enjoy or benefit from a second round of calls, volunteers among the residents would reach out and make additional contacts. That secondary contact was organized through the Residents’ Council. Another resident developed several mental quizzes/exercises and distributed them to the residents. Some of these exercises included topics such as Folk Music, Rebels and Revolutions, Unique Facts about Kendal Residents, TV in the Fifties and Sixties. The quizzes were not easy; they were designed to encourage discussions and phone calls among residents.
As weather improved residents were encouraged to engage in curbside cocktails. Around five o’clock groups maintaining social distancing gather around driveways, patio spaces, and across pathways where they share discussion and a beverage. Also as we at Kendal have remained in good health, agreements have been signed for two residential units to interact in each others’ homes. These “limited small pods” have enabled with caution two to four residents to eat a meal together. Other small clusters of seating about the walkways enable our residents taking a stroll to sit and discuss mutual topics of interest while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Recently the swimming pool and exercise room have been reopened. To be sure proper social distancing and numbers are maintained, residents are asked to schedule an individual appointment time. By no means do these efforts supplant the normalcy we all crave to reclaim, but they have helped the Kendal community to stay engaged during this unique time.