Staying Engaged and Connected at Lantern Hill

Residents are tuning into Lantern Hill’s TV channel for campus news, fitness classes, and more!

Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected.  Staff and residents at Lantern Hill are using their creativity to stay connected and engaged by utilizing the in-house TV channel. The channel provides residents with information, entertainment, and more at the Erickson Living developed and managed senior living community in New Providence, New Jersey.  

At first, the in-house community channel was dedicated to fitness, which the residents appreciated. Residents enjoy working out to Fitness Coordinator Melissa Sullivan’s streamed exercise classes safely at home during this time of social distancing.

As it became clear that the new normal would be in place longer than anticipated, the Lantern Hill team decided to add more programming to the channel to help bring the community together.

Morning Show Unites Residents and Staff

Brandi Zabransky, Lantern Hill’s concierge, came up with the idea of having a daily morning news show to keep residents informed about what is happening on campus.  “Mornings with Melissa,” hosted by Melissa Sullivan and produced by Brandi Zabransky, was launched in March. In addition to community news, Melissa shares stories, residents’ favorite vacation memories, and photos as well as leads sing-a-longs for residents’ birthdays. Highlights of the show are the videos of special and festive events on campus such as Concerts in the Courtyard, Cinco de Mayo, the Memorial Day ceremony, Courtyard Zumba, National Dance like a Chicken Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day, and a mini-parade with staff during EMS Appreciation Week, featuring residents cheering from balconies and windows, and employees practicing social distancing in the courtyard.

“From the outset, our show has been about trying to help the residents feel connected.  Seeing a familiar face, giving words of encouragement, sharing personal stories, the weather, and what’s going on around campus felt like the right thing to do,” says Melissa. “Personally, it has helped me feel connected to our residents.”

Residents Contribute Virtually to TV Channel

Residents have also gotten into the act by hosting virtual book clubs, writing programs, and more. Tom Foley, a chaplain at Lantern Hill’s Continuing Care Neighborhood and an independent living resident, put together a devotional service.  In honor of National Nurses Week, the Sales Department interviewed retired nurses and medical professionals living at Lantern Hill for a heartwarming video tribute created by Brandi.

“Residents and staff have really pulled together to keep the channel filled with an outstanding variety of interesting and entertaining content,” says Brandi.

An Invaluable Communication Tool

In addition to providing ways for community members to stay active and engaged during the COVID-19 situation, Executive Director Craig Karczmer and the administrative team have made transparency a top priority. Craig hosts a Community Update show twice a week with Lantern Hill’s Medical Director Sushmita Srivastav and other team members. Virtual Resident Town Hall meetings are aired, featuring updates from every department. Residents also receive information on the My Erickson app, and letters are delivered to residents’ apartment homes.

“Having an in-house channel as well as our other communication resources allows us to provide our residents with up-to-date information,” says Craig.

“Our wonderful Lantern Hill staff and residents have gone to great lengths to find imaginative programming opportunities that offer meaningful information, and that has fostered ongoing resident engagement,” says Craig. “The TV programs throughout this challenging time has enabled the entire community to come together in a way that has been greatly valued.”

Resident Sandra Arace, a fan of the TV channel, says, “I look forward to Craig Karczmer’s update twice a week. I also watch Melissa Sullivan’s exercise tapes and participate gladly. She is keeping us young!  The TV channel keeps us connected.”

To learn more about Lantern Hill, visit LanternHillCommunity.com.

About Lantern Hill: Lantern Hill, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 26-acre campus in New Providence, New Jersey. The not-for-profit community of more than 390 residents and 300 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information about Lantern Hill can be found at LanternHillCommunity.com.

Photo: Lantern Hill’s Fitness Coordinator hosts morning show on Lantern Hill’s in-house TV channel.