Erickson Living, a national leader in the development and management of continuing care retirement communities, has a robust 37-year history of helping seniors live better lives. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company's commitment to resident health, wellness and engagement is stronger than ever.
Tom Neubauer is the Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Communications for Erickson Living. He recently discussed the enterprise-wide response to this unprecedented situation, and the advantages of community living. Tom also shared perspective regarding what has influenced new residents to move to Erickson Living-managed campuses this summer.
Q: It's been a year unlike any other. How have Erickson Living communities adapted?
A: As always, it begins with extraordinary teamwork. The size and strength of our national network have made it possible for us to secure the resources, supplies and expertise that is required to protect the well-being of residents and employees. At the outset, we established prevention and containment protocols that often exceeded federal and state guidelines. In turn, we tailored services to complement these proactive measures. For example, each of our communities created a robust concierge program so that daily meals, prescriptions, mail, packages and other essentials were delivered directly to residents' doorsteps. Thanks to our unique Erickson Health and Medical Group platform, residents have easy access to expert providers and high-quality, on-site healthcare. This confluence of innovation and on-site support provides residents with advantages they would lack if they were isolated in a house.
Q: How are residents staying engaged in community life?
A: An active, vibrant retirement lifestyle is a hallmark of the Erickson Living experience. Even now when life has to operate a little differently, our teams have found creative ways to help residents stay well cared for and connected. For instance, the campuses are utilizing their in-house television stations to communicate timely information and broadcast programming designed to educate, entertain, and enhance residents' lives. More recently, we've taken a measured approach to the phased-in reopening of amenities and services so residents can safely socialize while still practicing physical distancing. As a result, residents are enjoying outdoor amenities such as gardening, bocce ball, walking paths and using the on-site fitness centers.
Even in this "new normal," we believe in the fundamental value of socialization as a contributor to overall quality of life.
Q: Why is it a good decision for seniors to move to an Erickson Living community now?
A: With so much uncertainty in the world today, the one thing that has come into even sharper focus is our innate need for a strong social network. None of us can do it alone. Now, more than ever, community matters. That's why, for community residents, living in a safe environment with other seniors who understand each other and who genuinely care for their neighbors has been such an appreciated and valued experience. Ironically, this event, which has forced so many people to draw apart, has created new bonds of friendship and made us even closer.
There isn't just solace in community; there's strength in community. Many individuals living alone in their homes during the pandemic and abiding by associated stay-at-home orders find it difficult managing everyday needs, such as grocery shopping or picking up a prescription. By living at an Erickson Living community, residents never have to worry about leaving their homes for supplies, relying on friends or family to buy them, or navigating online shopping sites and facing delivery delays. The size, strength and structure of our Erickson Living network means that we can act quickly in response to extreme circumstances in order to meet the needs of our residents, which is always our number one priority.
Q: Have seniors continued to move to Erickson Living communities in recent months?
A: Yes, we have welcomed hundreds of new neighbors to our communities in recent months. Many were eager to move on from the burdens of home maintenance and, especially over the past few months, the lack of support and isolation of living alone. These forward-thinking residents made the proactive decision to continue living independently, but with all the benefits of being part of a larger, supportive community.
With a variety of ways to connect, our teams are able to meet people where they are as they set their goals and expectations for retirement. At many communities, we are welcoming prospective residents to campus for individual tours, with appropriate social distancing and other preventive measures in place. For those who prefer, virtual tours of the community and individual apartment homes are also available.
Our personal moving consultants continue to support new residents throughout their downsizing, home selling, and moving process. In many markets, the combination of low inventory and low interest rates are making it a great time to sell a home, and projections for the residential real estate market continue to look strong for the second half of 2020.
Q: How can moving to an Erickson Living community help give seniors and their families more peace of mind?
A: While residents at our communities may be spending more time physically apart, they never feel alone. We've all made changes to the way we interact, but our residents' active, worry-free lifestyles did not stop. They continue to enjoy ongoing socialization opportunities, thanks to the innovation and hard work of our on-site teams, who provide virtual exercise classes, spiritual services, educational courses, technology support, and creative social distancing events like balcony happy hours. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for seniors living alone in their homes without access to valued services and amenities.
In addition, many residents find tremendous peace of mind knowing that our on-site medical center and health care professionals are on campus, should they need them. Health care professionals are available for telehealth appointments and even offer safe "in-home" visits, when needed. This is a unique benefit and a comfort to family members, too.
Our new residents have told us their decision to move this year has provided them with the best of both worlds: the convenience and value of quality services at their fingertips coupled with a close-knit community network of support and friendship.