Keeping Ann’s Choice residents healthy and happy

Innovative changes for extraordinary times

Created date

May 5th, 2020
Here, a resident waves to her family from her balcony as her family members wave and hold out signs wishing her a happy birthday. 

Despite wanting to maintain a healthy physical distance, community members and their families are still able to connect, thanks to some coordination assistance from the staff at Ann’s Choice.

Ann's Choice pulls together during uncertain times

In challenging times, we pull together to care for each other. This became the motto at Erickson Living-managed communities across the country, as staff and residents found innovative ways to stay safe, healthy, and connected during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ann’s Choice made a number of important changes, asking employees across the enterprise to take on responsibilities outside their assigned role. All in-person group activities were suspended as residents stayed in their homes. Everyone observed CDC protocols for handwashing and social distancing. A concierge service was developed to leave mail, packages, and essentials on the shelves outside residents’ doors so they didn't have to venture out. And the dedicated culinary and dining teams delivered three days’ worth of healthy, nutritious meals and snacks every three days. 

Executive Director Chris Donati said, “The health and safety of our residents is always our top priority. We've been following all CDC guidelines to the letter and taking extra precautions. It’s a real team effort, and it works.” 

Community member Camille Zagaroli had high praise for the staff. “I’m so grateful to be at Ann’s Choice,” she said. “I feel safe here, I really do. They’re just wonderful, and they put themselves on the front line for us every day.”

Pearl and Jerry Plavin wrote in an email, “The meals have been simply wonderful, (varied, healthful, bountiful and, yes, fun!) And the young people who deliver them—with smiles and graciousness—are outstanding. We are so grateful for this and mindful of how fortunate we are here at Ann’s Choice. Thank you, again and again.”

Donati says positive feedback like this inspires the staff every day. “It isn’t only from residents. Their children write and call to thank us,” he says. “We’re honored to have their trust. We will see this through together.”

Ann's Choice taps into the value of technology to keep residents connected

Ann’s Choice tapped into technology to keep everyone active, engaged, and connected. “Now more than ever, human interaction is vital,” Donati said. “We’re putting every resource we have to work in new, imaginative ways.”

The community TV station became a hub of activity, offering programs that address residents’ spiritual, cognitive, and physical needs. The station broadcast recorded prayers and faith-based readings to provide comfort. Residents stayed fit with televised chair yoga, aerobics, and weight-training classes. Films, from classic to contemporary, aired regularly. And Donati held fireside chats and released updates in recorded phone messages.

Technology also enabled spouses living independently to have virtual visits with loved ones in continuing care. “We set up regular phone calls and FaceTime chats on iPhones, so spouses could spend time together,” explains Kelly Wright, director of continuing care. She added that in another case, the staff arranged a distance visit for a resident celebrating her birthday. “Her family brought a huge sign, and we [went out onto the balcony], so she could speak with her loved ones. It was special.”

For the many clubs at Ann’s Choice, virtual meetings on Zoom and Skype became the go-to for socializing and conducting business. “Everyone missed meeting in-person, but these platforms are a great substitute when we can't be together.” Donati says.

The value of community

Donati noted that living in a caring, resource-rich community like Ann’s Choice is especially beneficial in unprecedented times like these. 

“Many seniors like the idea of ‘aging in place,’ where they remain in their family home,” he said. “Unfortunately, this can be isolating, because you lack the resources, as well as the community and activity that provide a sense of purpose. Our residents were in their apartments, but they were not isolated. In fact, they found incredible ways to stay in touch while staying apart.”  

Resident Harry Beam agreed that the community has never felt more important. “Every day at 3 p.m. my neighbors across the courtyard, Bill and Karen Frye, held mini-concerts from their balcony,” he reports. “Bill played guitar, and everyone sang together. We felt connected and safe at the same time.” 


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