Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures at Brooksby Village

Brooksby Village enacts proactive plan to keep residents safe and engaged

Created date

May 5th, 2020
Merle Sidell enjoyed the comforts of her apartment at Brooksby Village during the coronavirus outbreak, including the ability to connect with friends and neighbors over the phone. She's smiling here in her apartment.

Merle Sidell enjoyed the comforts of her apartment at Brooksby Village during the coronavirus outbreak, including the ability to connect with friends and neighbors over the phone.

Brooksby Village sets the standard for resident safety

When the COVID-19 crisis escalated into a global pandemic, it was only a matter of weeks before normal, everyday life was upended.

“Everybody’s world went a little topsy-turvy,” says Merle Sidell, who lives at Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living-managed community in Peabody, Mass.

Terms like “social distancing” and “personal protective equipment” became fixtures in our vernacular, as we battled a threat unlike any in recent history.

Erickson Living’s management team enacted preventative measures before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States.

“All across our family of communities, residents and staff are taking extraordinary steps to protect the health and safety of our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and caregivers,” wrote Alan Butler, Erickson Living’s chief executive officer, in a letter to the enterprise’s 27,000 residents and 14,000 employees. “I am confident that we will look back on this unprecedented health event and be proud of how well we cared for each other.”

Continuous monitoring, proactive response

As positive COVID-19 cases escalated across Massachusetts, Brooksby Village’s executive team met daily to assess and evaluate how best to combat the virus’ spread.

“Each morning, we reviewed state reports and situation reports,” says Executive Director Tracie Bettano. “We saw exponential increases [of positive COVID-19 cases] within the state, within our county, and within other senior living situations outside our gates, and we took all the preventative measures we could to keep our community of residents and employees healthy and well.”

Residents were asked to remain in their apartments as staff members across the enterprise assumed roles outside of their typical scope of work to meet the evolving needs within the community.

Dining services pivoted to meal delivery service, taking meals directly to residents’ apartments. Concierge services mobilized to deliver packages and mail, ensuring residents didn’t have to enter common spaces to retrieve items.

“The staff has taken very good care of us,” says Merle. “Even when everything was changing so fast, they still found ways to reach out. The students who work in dining services wrote notes that they delivered with our meals. One note said, ‘Packed with a little love and sunshine.’”

Consistent flow of information

As in any crisis situation, communication is key. And Brooksby’s communication with residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic made the most of the channels already in place.

“The communication has been phenomenal,” says Merle. “The executive team kept us informed using television, phones, letters on the shelves outside our apartments, and the My Erickson app.”

Brooksby’s in-house television studio aired regular updates and information from Bettano, Associate Executive Director Justin Paradis, and Dr. Louis Giorgio, the community’s medical director. 

“I know it’s difficult to alter your lives to such a great degree, but what we’re doing to prevent the spread is working,” says Giorgio. “I’ve been impressed with the coordinated efforts to work together and keep everyone safe.”

Extensive screening procedures at Brooskby’s front gate ensured only essential personnel entered the community. 

“The staff’s primary goal is to keep us healthy and safe,” says Merle. “Brooksby has done a wonderful job taking care of us.”

Staying engaged while practicing social distancing

While the social benefits of living in community were minimized during the peak of COVID-19 activity, residents and staff found ways to stay connected.

“Our resident life employees have been great and creative partners for social distancing engagement,” says Bettano. “I’ve always known we have a special team at Brooksby, but it’s times like these that you find out what you’re made of. Our team has stepped up at every turn.”

Matthew Connery, resident services manager, hosted a trivia challenge on Brooksby TV, encouraging residents to participate via email. 

“We know this is a challenging time, and we want to do everything we can to keep you engaged, entertained, and hopefully even a little bit competitive,” said Connery.

Fitness specialists led workouts via Brooksby TV, and the pastoral ministries team kept opportunities for prayer, meditation, and song alive through regular television programming.

United as a community even while apart

Residents, too, found ways to connect while physically separated.

The Resident Advisory Council (RAC) organized an initiative called Resident to Resident Connection, leveraging a system already in place. Each residence building has a building facilitator and floor captains tasked with ensuring information flows between staff and residents.

“Our floor captains called other neighbors on their floor to check-in and make sure everyone’s okay,” says Joan Santeusanio, president of the RAC. “It’s human nature to want to interact with others, so phone calls became even more important while we were in our apartments.”

The spread of COVID-19 and subsequent disruption of daily life proved the strength, creativity, and connection of Brooksby’s community members.

“Everyone who is part of our Brooksby Village family played a huge part in our response to the COVID-19 situation,” says Bettano. “We’ve been saying from day one, ‘We’ve got this,’ and we do.”


If you're interested in learning more Brooksby Village, request a free brochure here or learn more about other Erickson Living-managed communities.