Houston, Texas--The COVID-19 response at Eagle's Trace, the West Houston community developed and managed by Erickson Living, accelerated a process that was already underway for the in-house television station.
Channel 896, available in all apartment homes at Eagle's Trace, offers closed-circuit programming to support communication and engagement across the community.
Ahead of COVID-19, channel 896 featured scrolling slides with information about upcoming community events.
In late 2019, the Vision Committee at Eagle's Trace formed a subcommittee, the Resident Showtime Video Project [RSVP], to explore ways to enhance television content, including the possibility of live streaming events on campus.
"We were pursuing what channel 896 could do," said Sandi English, resident chair of the Vision Committee. "The RSVP ad hoc committee attracted over a dozen volunteers who wanted to learn how to use the audio-visual equipment in order to maximize the potential of our television channel."
Ongoing, transparent communication
As public health concerns about the spread of COVID-19 escalated, the executive team at Eagle's Trace implemented swift and sweeping measures to ensure residents' safety and well-being.
Community members remained safely in their apartments as employees took on new roles, delivering meals, mail, packages, and essential items.
"Television leapt to a new level of importance," said Sandi. "All of a sudden we were home and watching television. The changes we'd been anticipating for channel 896 happened almost overnight."
Executive Director Stephen Aigner went live on the air to broadcast community updates every Monday. The updates were recorded and re-aired on channel 896 throughout the week, so all residents had the opportunity to see them.
Each Friday, Mr. Aigner hosted a video conference via Zoom with resident and staff leaders across the community, which also aired on channel 896.
"Leveraging our television production capabilities gave us a valuable tool to keep residents informed about our COVID-19 preparedness measures," said Mr. Aigner. "It allowed us to provide ongoing and transparent communication."
The Monday updates were also available to view via a private link to the Eagle's Trace YouTube channel, so family and friends could stay informed about safety measures implemented on campus.
"I have a daughter in Idaho, and she was able to watch the weekly updates," said Sandi. "It gave her peace of mind to stay up-to-date on the precautions being implemented at Eagle's Trace."
Supporting resident engagement
Jordan Crume, Community Resources Coordinator, and Fatema Malik, Senior I.T. Site Manager, worked behind the camera to facilitate the technical process of producing television content.
"Channel 896 also became a tool to promote engagement and social connectedness during this time," described Ms. Crume. "We were able to bring the activities residents typically enjoy on campus right to their apartment."
Five exercise classes, led virtually by the Eagle's Trace fitness staff or fitness team members at other Erickson Living-managed communities, aired daily on channel 896. Programs for entertainment, education, and spiritual development also ran regularly.
Viewership of channel 896 soared as a result.
"The staff and virtual resident volunteers at Eagle's Trace deserve great credit for the creative and high-quality programming they have established throughout this unprecedented situation," said Jeff Watson, Erickson Living's Director of Operations. "Their innovative and hard work has resulted in a heightened level of communications that has kept those on campus connected, engaged and healthy."
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 72-acre campus in West Houston, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 930 residents and 500 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight. Additional information can be found at http://eaglestracecommunity.com/.