Colonial Heights and Gardens keeps its residents safe while maintaining a community environment
How do you feel like you’re a part of a community when you can’t leave your home? That’s a question many of us have had to ask ourselves this year. This was also a problem that Colonial Heights and Gardens in Florence had to answer to keep its residents happy and safe.
One of the largest retirement communities in Northern Kentucky, offering independent living apartments and personal care over 18 acres, the community shut its doors in March to keep its residents safe.
“[Visitors] were not allowed in the building at all,” says Pam Huesman, marketing director. “Our housekeepers are always going around spraying. We had canceled all activities in both buildings. After about two weeks, residents, and especially those in independent living, got very restless.”
Many residents choose to live in retirement communities for the camaraderie and community feel, so Huesman and the team at Colonial Heights knew they needed to get creative.
“The first thing we did was start taking around like word search books and crossword puzzles. We started ice cream carts. We would take ice cream up to the residents daily,” she says.
Colonial Heights introduced a cocktail hour, where staff would bring cocktail carts door-to-door and craft drinks for residents. The staff started hosting dance parties in the hallway, where residents could dance in the doorways of their apartments. And they found games to play, like remote control car races, to help residents safely interact with one another.
“The staff really went above and beyond on a consistent basis, just everybody banding together and really trying to make the resident experience something special,” says Huesman.
Colonial Heights and Gardens also recruited its residents’ families to keep everyone’s spirits up. In addition to frequent phone calls and video chats, the community hosted several drive-by events to celebrate special holidays.
“We wanted to make Mother’s Day extra special for all of the residents,” says Huesman. The community provided almost 200 fresh flower bouquets to its mothers. Families then drove around the community with decorated cars and signs and paraded in the courtyard to honor them.
“Everyone felt loved, everyone understood that this was a brand-new way of celebrating, but it was very successful,” says Huesman. The event was even repeated for Father’s Day.
As we have learned more about the virus, and as the state has opened up, Colonial Heights and Gardens has adapted its policies.
Residents can safely leave the community to visit with family and family members can come to meet with them, with social distancing rules and masks in place. Residents can also enjoy time outside or listen to outdoor concerts. Activities have also returned. Fewer people can attend each activity, so the community has started offering each activity multiple times throughout a day so that everyone can participate.
Colonial Heights and Gardens’ work has paid off—as of when this publication went to print, the community had zero cases of COVID-19.
“The biggest key was making sure they understood that they’re in a community and that you have lots of people that will check on you every day and make sure that you have whatever you need,” says Huesman. “Things are loosening up in the sense that we’re learning more about what works and what doesn’t work, but we’re still trying to keep everybody safe right now.”