Dallas, Texas--Katherine Young can still recall her early days of volunteering in the onsite television studio at Highland Springs, the North Dallas community developed and managed by Erickson Living.
"It's astonishing when I consider the evolution of Highland Springs TV (HSTV)," said Katherine, a volunteer for the past nine years. "There are moments when I think, 'Oh my goodness, it's amazing.'"
HSTV, Channel 80, available in all apartment homes on campus, offers closed-circuit programming to support communication and engagement across the community. The television channel has been an invaluable asset throughout the COVID-19 response at Highland Springs.
"When COVID-19 broke, things were changing so fast, Matt [Neville, executive director] wanted the ability to get timely information out to community members on a daily basis," said Phil Becker, chair of the Communications Committee and an HSTV volunteer. "We had the capability to live stream a 4 p.m. daily update through HSTV."
The daily updates have run throughout the stay-at-home period and phased reopening.
"We hit the ground running with the HSTV experience," said Mr. Neville. "Channel 80 has been a valuable tool to keep residents informed on a daily basis."
As public health concerns about the spread of COVID-19 escalated, the executive team at Highland Springs implemented swift and sweeping measures to ensure residents' safety and well-being.
Residents remained safely in their apartment homes as staff took on new roles, delivering meals, mail, packages, and essential items.
HSTV volunteers transitioned to a virtual role, working from their apartments to support staff who stepped in to keep the television studio running.
Nicole Eison, fitness manager at Highland Springs, assisted with HSTV programming. Drawing from past technical experiences, Eison learned to use the audio-visual equipment.
"I had some experience adding fitness content to the MyErickson app," said Mrs. Eison. "The HSTV volunteers continued to work remotely and support us through FaceTime and Zoom calls. Television programming became a collaborative effort."
Community Resources Coordinator Terri Guy also stepped in to run the audio-visual equipment, facilitate the ongoing programming on HSTV, and produce the weekly television guide.
"I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed learning something new," said Ms. Guy. "It's been a positive experience with everyone working together to maximize the potential of HSTV."
In addition to its value as an informative news source, HSTV has been central to resident engagement, as staff and virtual resident volunteers produce interactive programming.
"We've had a lot of new content come on related to exercise, entertainment, and spiritual development," said Mr. Neville.
Fitness videos, programs for spiritual guidance, trivia, movies, and entertainers round out the robust weekly television offerings.
"The virtual resident volunteers and employees at Highland Springs deserve great credit for the creative and high-quality programming they have established throughout this unprecedented situation," said Jeff Watson, Erickson Living's Director of Operations. "Their innovative and hard work has resulted in a heightened level of communications that has kept those on campus connected and healthy."
About Highland Springs: Highland Springs, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 89-acre campus in North Dallas, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,150 residents and 520 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Highland Springs. Additional information can be found at http://highlandspringscommunity.com.