Hingham, MA - When stay-at-home orders were enacted around the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic, simple things like buying toilet paper, getting exercise, and staying in touch with loved ones became difficult. But thanks to quick action taken by Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living developed and managed senior living community in Hingham, MA, sheltering in place was much easier and more comfortable for the more than 1,300 retirees who live at the community.
Even before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S., Erickson Living enacted its emergency preparedness plan and assembled a task force, which met multiple times a day to review reports from the CDC as well as local health departments and governments. Safety measures, such as restricting nonessential visitors and screening staff and essential visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, were quickly put in place at all Erickson Living-managed communities.
"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," Erickson Living CEO Alan Butler wrote in a letter to all employees and residents. "Your support and willingness to help are an inspiration to us all—and a reminder that if we band together, we can overcome any challenge."
Plans in place
At Linden Ponds, the staff are working hard to enable residents to remain comfortable in their apartment homes. Mail and newspapers are being delivered directly to residents' doors, along with CVS prescriptions, Amazon and UPS packages. Staff are also delivering personal messages, posters, flowers, birthday & anniversary balloons and posters, and homemade items from family to their respective family member living at Linden Ponds. Instead of risking exposure to the virus by going to the grocery store, Linden Ponds residents are fortunate to have meals delivered to their doors by the dining services staff.
"They are doing a wonderful job feeding us," says Marilyn Stewart. "They give us a menu, and we can choose what we want for each day. They deliver three days of food at a time, and it's very plentiful. They give us enough for snacks and breakfast, like yogurt and fruit."
Linden Ponds even set up a concierge service to help residents get basic supplies. People who run out of necessities like shampoo, coffee, tea, or toilet paper can simply call the front desk and a staff member will deliver the items to their doors.
Staying connected with friends and family is a challenge for everyone while social distancing measures are in place. Residents at Linden Ponds, of course, discontinued club meetings and other gatherings during the pandemic, but measures were put in place to help them stay connected and maintain some of their routines.
The Linden Ponds TV Studio has been busy. Residents are able to host the LPTV LIVE Show from their apartments using Zoom. Members of the Executive Team also host a weekly call in show as well to answer questions, provide updates, and more.
The fitness department have created exercise videos that air on the in-house TV station, and the movie club streams the films they would normally show on the big screen. Community Services Manager Molly Lynch St. John stays in touch with residents by sending out a daily email with short stories, poetry, photos, and links to interesting websites for entertainment and travel.
"There are residents that I hear from who are finding ways to play bridge online, meet with their book clubs through Zoom, and connect with family and friends through Zoom," Lynch St. John says. "I met one resident couple when I was delivering a package, and they were dressing up to do a Zoom talent show with their other family members."
Marilyn plays bridge online with some of her Linden Ponds neighbors while the stay-at-home directive is in place. She also dialed into a Lifelong Learning class about capitalism that met on Zoom since they couldn't gather in person.
People at Linden Ponds often describe the community as a big family, and they had a chance to prove how true it is during the pandemic. Marilyn, who is a member of the Resident Advisory Council, which acts as a liaison between residents and staff, says the group started a telephone chain to make sure everyone stayed connected.
"We have 70 people helping us, we divided up the community and we're calling people to check on them to make sure they're okay," Marilyn says.
About Linden Ponds: Linden Ponds, one of 20 continuing care communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Hingham, Massachusetts. The not-for-profit community of more than 1300 residents and 800 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 about Linden Ponds can be found at LindenPonds.com.
Written by Meghan Streit