Tallgrass Creek's must-see TV brings connection and entertainment during unprecedented time

Residents enjoy opportunities to stay engaged in community life while safely social distancing

Overland Park, Kans. – June 22, 2020 – At Tallgrass Creek, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, residents regularly enjoy 48 popular fitness classes each week, both in the gym and in the pool, all coordinated by fitness instructors Camin Bell and Ashley Huesers.

With residents adhering to social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, fitness enthusiasts at the community now turn to channel 1851, the community's in-house television station. There, they are greeted by Bell and Huesers who lead half hour classes throughout the morning that include everything from gentle stretching to yoga to Zumba.   

"Our first class is at 7:30 a.m. and our last is 1:00 p.m. and it's all repeated in the afternoon," says Bell. "As always, we address all levels of fitness and have fun along the way."

Jill Jones says Bell's and Huesers’ classes have definitely helped maintain her fitness level during the pandemic.

"I actually love working out in my living room," says Jill. "Camin and Ashley bring so much good to us."

Terrific TV

Bell and Huesers aren't the only ones engaging with residents via in-house television. Each morning at 10:00 a.m., a resident life team member joins Tallgrass Creek neighbors on channel 1851 and chats with residents who call in with comments, questions, or just a simple "hello."

"It's a time of sharing, reminiscing, and connecting," says resident life manager Jan Magee. "We talk about any and everything. It's beneficial for all of us."

Tallgrass Creek's television continues throughout the day with interactive conversations hosted by dining services director Nick Tondeur, medical administrator Janel Southard, clinical social worker Karlene Newsom, sales director Blake Marshall, administrator Ben Ross from Blue Sage Pointe, Tallgrass Creek's continuing care neighborhood, and more.

The weekly line-up also includes toe-tapping call-in musical request shows hosted by team member Rod Zeigler.

"I love these shows," says resident Jan Meyer, who says that moving to Tallgrass Creek is the best decision she ever made. "The music goes from bluegrass to Elvis to Johnny Cash. It's great music usually accompanied by great comments."

Zeigler occasionally gets assistance from residents like Wes Geer, a frequent requester on the call-in shows. Wes introduced his own extensive "and eclectic" iTunes playlist during one musical broadcast and told a little about each song. Other musically-inclined residents are scheduled to join Zeigler on future broadcasts.

Additionally, the television schedule offers interactive bingo, trivia, and other games along with educational presentations about American music, baseball, and more. Interesting YouTube and Ted Talk selections are also part of the lineup.  

Special programming

Tallgrass Creek team member Lucas Wicklund recently created a special video just for residents called "How We Do It," a light-hearted montage of the staff’s new normal in response to social distancing and other health guidelines. The musical video shows staff members arriving, having their temperature taken, donning masks, coordinating and delivering meals, mail, and groceries, and performing other in-home resident activities.

"It's definitely a 'must see' and so well done," says resident Bob Butterworth.  

Wicklund also hosts the occasional "Tech Talk" where he answers numerous technical questions (and there are plenty) about cell phones and more.

Residents look forward to Executive Director Jean Landreville's daily update about events happening in and outside the community. Throughout Tallgrass Creek’s response to coronavirus, the TV station has served as a vital communication platform for keeping residents updated on the community’s preparedness. Landreville's desk is stacked with notes from residents and family members thanking the community for their "first class" safety efforts and creative television programming. 

"The resident life team creates programming that keeps us all engaged and entertained," says Landreville. "It's contributed greatly to our feeling we're not alone but going through this unprecedented time together."

The day's programming usually ends with a lovely musical video created by resident Lila Martin that depicts seasonal photos taken around Tallgrass Creek's scenic campus.

Jan Meyer says the unique television programming has meant "so very much" during the pandemic.

"Some of us call in with comments and some just listen," says Jan. "But it's something that keeps us all connected and that's a big thing."  

Bob Butterworth notes that the television schedule is just one more thing that makes Tallgrass Creek special.  

"It's 12 hours of daily programming that holds something of interest for everyone," says Bob. ""I can't tell you how different it would have been if we'd been alone in our former home during all this."

About Tallgrass Creek: Tallgrass Creek, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 65-acre campus in Overland Park, Kansas. The not-for-profit community of more than 500 residents and 350 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 can be found at TallgrassCreek.com.       

Photo Caption: Tallgrass Creek fitness manager Camin Bell records an exercise class to air on the community’s in-house television station, which offers a plethora of creative programming to keep residents active, engaged and connected to community life.

Written by Mary Bush