How to celebrate holidays safely during COVID at senior housing centers

Ann Lewis, Executive Vice President and COO, Griffin Living

With Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas coming in a few weeks, we have been thinking carefully about how to have holidays that are both safe and festive for our residents during the pandemic.

Though our holidays may look different this year than in the past, they remain important to all of us, no matter what age we are. In other years, children would be off from school, college students coming home, and families reuniting. This year was a very different situation for everyone. With Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas coming in a few weeks, we have been thinking carefully about how to have holidays that are both safe and festive for our residents during the pandemic. Here’s how we have decided to approach it:

This year, we recommend virtual visits as the first choice for families. For our senior housing residents who chose this option for Thanksgiving, we brought turkey dinners with all the fixings to their apartments and facilitated virtual meetings with families. We will do the same for Christmas.

For those who still want to celebrate in person, we strongly recommend that families come visit the center, where our safety protocols can be reliably enforced. The first approach we take is interviewing family members who wish to visit, asking what their habits around distancing have been, inquiring of any symptoms or exposures, and reminding them about the risks posed to vulnerable populations, even by loved ones who are asymptomatic.

We take our role as assisted living builders and managers very seriously, which is why we have also invested in infrastructure to keep the communities as safe as possible in these unprecedented times. These include disinfecting kiosks that guests walk through at the entrance of buildings which take temperature and kill viruses. We have installed virus-killing lighting in the elevators and at key gathering areas, such as the bistro, the bar, and the restaurant anteroom. We have coated high-traffic surfaces of our buildings with special disinfectant to kill viruses on contact. And we have N-95 mask-level air filtration systems.

In other years, we encourage our residents to go home to their families for an afternoon. If the families are not able to come pick them up at the center, we can arrange for transportation. We don’t want our residents to be stressed or overstimulated: they go for just a couple hours to see their families, visit, and have a meal. Then we pick them up and they can come back to rest.

In other years, we would also welcome families to come to us. We typically host festive holiday dinners in the mid-afternoon for residents who wish to celebrate on property. These meals are prepared to match the luxury lifestyle that Griffin Living has come to represent in the industry. There are carving stations for turkey, with all the traditional fixings, themed cocktails, and plenty of pies to go around. Between the sights and smells of the feast and the sound of a live chorus singing, no one at a Griffin Living senior housing facility misses an important holiday.

We are striving to make holidays at our centers as festive as possible this year. While they may not be the celebrations we are used to, we hope that celebrating safely allows residents to enjoy their family relationship and connections for many years to come.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

An award-winning, privately-owned real estate development company specializing in innovative senior living projects.

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