Ashburn, Virginia--In April during a "good news" segment, a national cable network shared video of Ashby Ponds residents joining together safely, in song, as a way to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic. But performing in front of the camera is nothing new to members of the Erickson Living community in Loudoun County.
Recognizing the value of television programming in providing timely information and entertainment, Ashby Ponds residents and employees have fully engaged their own in-house station.
"During this unprecedented time, Ashby Ponds TV (Channel 972) serves as a primary communications resource in our effort to keep residents and employees informed," says Executive Director Will Nance. "Our daily update provides details on safety and community-wide precautions. In addition, Channel 972 also features creative programming which goes a long way in keeping residents connected. The goal throughout this time is to help everyone thrive."
A source of information
Even before Governor Ralph Northam issued the stay at home order for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ashby Ponds was already communicating important safety precautions to residents on Channel 972. In fact, from mid-March to late June, the station has broadcast more than 150 original programs.
"Our frequency of programming really ramped up during this time," says Kosta Viennas, Ashby Ponds' Community TV and AV Manager. "The creativity among staff and residents in bringing this to life is remarkable."
One of the crowning jewels of Channel 972's COVID-19 response is the daily update. As a trusted leader at Ashby Ponds, Mr. Nance hosts the show, wherein he provides timely COVID-19 related information, birthday shout-outs, announcements and department updates. Several times a week via Zoom video conferencing, Mr. Nance interviews residents so they can keep their neighbors informed.
Each episode of the daily update is uploaded to YouTube, enabling family members and friends to stay current. Viewership continues to grow as the community announces phase 1 reopening measures.
Engagement and fun
Channel 972 has also aired the popular Tuesday "Happy Hour," interfaith Sunday services, live bingo, trivia games, lectures and interviews with local elected officials.
The Ashby Ponds "Happy Hour" is broadcast live on Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m. and again throughout the day. The program consists of 30 minutes of fun discussion, including interviews with employees, followed by 30 minutes of a live fitness routine created by Ashby Ponds Fitness Coordinator Debbie Enright. The show also features mental exercises known as Power Braining.
"We enjoy the 'Happy Hour' each week," says resident Mel Lew. "It is nice learning more about the families of our staff. We are thankful for all they are doing for us at Ashby Ponds."
The Resident Life Department utilizes Channel 972 to adapt the community's vast activities calendar to television programming. Recently, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring appeared on Channel 972 through live video conferencing.
"We continue to invite everyone who was previously scheduled to visit our campus to address our community via Zoom," says Mr. Viennas. "So far, we've been very successful, airing interviews with State Senator Jennifer Bosko and State Delegate David Reid."
Keeping residents not only informed but also entertained remains a hallmark of Channel 972. Each week the station holds radio style raffles-–awarding a designated caller with a prize such as Ashby Ponds spirit wear and merchandise.
Recently, the station began utilizing Mentimeter, an interactive power point application that allows residents to answer questions in real-time from their computers or smart phones. The new app is particularly useful for trivia games as residents can respond immediately and see their progress on a leaderboard.
"We continue to learn just how much residents appreciate hearing from, and seeing their neighbors, via Channel 972," says Mr. Nance. "In our proactive response to the pandemic, the in-house television station continues to be a terrific asset."
About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,650 residents and 550 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Ashby Ponds. Additional information can be found at AshbyPonds.com.