Tallgrass Creek residents and staff adjust to a new norm during COVID-19 crisis
When COVID-19 cases escalated, Tallgrass Creek residents began "sheltering in place" so like most people, their day-to-day routines began looking quite different.
Many turned each morning to channel 1851, the community's in-house television station, where they were greeted by resident life manager Jan Magee. She chatted virtually with residents about the pandemic, missing loved ones, and a host of other topics.
"We talked about any and everything," says Magee. "Sometimes residents shared apps for puzzles, sometimes we reminisced—just whatever came up. It was good for all of us."
Executive Director Jean Landreville says the entire staff is dedicated to the health and safety of each resident as the community adheres to the "stay home" policy.
"We definitely have a new norm and everyone is pitching in to help," says Landreville. "We've put new processes in place quickly that protect both our residents and staff during this time."
Landreville notes that the new processes include employees having their temperature taken at Tallgrass Creek's gated entrance before each shift. Residents are able to order from a local grocery store by phone, which delivers orders to the front gate. Staff members then take over, by providing doorstep delivery of groceries along with meals, snacks, mail, newspapers, and packages. Single-serve toiletries, laundry detergent, and coffee are available as "hold over" items between grocery deliveries.
Additionally, residents are utilizing telehealth medical appointments with Tallgrass Creek physicians from the community's on-site medical center, though face-to-face appointments are available if needed.
Community members at Blue Sage Pointe, Tallgrass Creek's continuing care neighborhood, experience the same caring support. Manager Nathan Johnson offers additional comfort through Family Connections, a program he created during the COVID-19 crisis that utilizes iPads to connect residents in continuing care with their families.
Resident Carolyn Stiles says the staff at Tallgrass Creek has "bent over backwards" throughout the pandemic to demonstrate caring support.
"I just can't say enough about them," says Carolyn. "We are waited on hand and foot and need for nothing. Everyone here has just been wonderful."
Landreville shared community news with residents during her "call-in" executive updates during the crisis, which aired frequently on Tallgrass Creek's television station.
"We want everyone to feel safe and informed," says Landreville. "Plus, it's wonderful to just connect."
The television schedule also includes a variety of fitness classes with exercise instructors Camin Bell and Ashley Huesers, which encourage residents to stay active while in their homes.
Several afternoons a week, residents enjoy interacting with resident life team members, who host bingo, trivia, blackjack, and Name That Tune-style competitions on channel 1851. The residence building at Tallgrass Creek with the most winners will enjoy a celebration once the pandemic deescalates.
Barbara Fay says she and her husband Bill are impressed and grateful for the care they've received during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We are exactly where we should be right now," says Barbara. "I'm so thankful we're here while all this is going on."
Photo courtesy of Tallgrass Creek
Photo Caption: Community members display signs at the entrance to Tallgrass Creek to express their appreciation for the staff who provide their needs at the door, allowing the residents to stay safely and comfortably in their apartment homes.
About Tallgrass Creek: Tallgrass Creek, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 65-acre campus in Overland Park, Kansas. The not-for-profit community of more than 500 residents and 350 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 can be found at TallgrassCreek.com.
Written by Mary Bush