Unique programming keeps community connected and engaged during challenging times
Highlands Ranch, Colo. – July 1, 2020 -- At Wind Crest, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, residents continue to practice safe social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although neighbors may be spending more time apart physically, many report that they're feeling more deeply connected to their community than ever before.
Already a close-knit community, Wind Crest residents and staff pulled together during the pandemic to find creative ways to stay connected.
"With the in-house TV station, our goal is to provide content that is unique to Wind Crest and supports our residents' multi-dimensional health and wellness to help them achieve an exceptional lifestyle," said Craig Ellsworth, Community Resources Manager.
During the community's response to coronavirus, the team has taken this commitment to the next level, providing more creative programming to keep residents informed, entertained and engaged in Wind Crest's vibrant community life, even while things on campus have looked a bit different than usual.
Interactive and informative
At the core of this programming is the twice-weekly Virtual Town Hall meeting. Aired live from Wind Crest's Arts & Enrichment theater, the meeting has been hosted by Ellsworth, who is joined by Executive Director Craig Erickson on Mondays and Associate Executive Director Kathy Dilger on Thursdays. In addition to important community updates, the talk-show style format offers residents the opportunity to hear personal stories and insight from familiar faces, including staff from Dining, General Services, the Medical Center, and more.
Using Mentimeter, a unique, interactive presentation software, residents were able to actively participate in these Town Hall meetings via their smartphones.
"We can ask questions, and residents respond in real time," explained Ellsworth. "The residents' answers can be displayed on the screen, so everyone can see each other's responses. It really keeps people engaged."
"The Virtual Town Halls have been valuable tools for disseminating information and gathering feedback," said Joe Knox, who has been involved with the TV station as a resident volunteer since moving to Wind Crest a year ago.
Mind, body and spirit
Beyond providing residents with the most accurate and up-to-date community news and information, Wind Crest TV continues to support the community in achieving optimal wellness, even during a pandemic with live, taped and virtual programs.
For example, Fitness Manager Terri Billings and her team offer six exercise programs, including balance, yoga, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes, scheduled at certain times throughout the week so that residents can maintain their physical fitness while enjoying their favorite activities and instructors from the comfort of their own apartment homes.
To support both mental and spiritual wellness, Wind Crest's Resident Life and Pastoral Ministries teams have developed unique programming such as "Of The Spirit", a show hosted by Pastoral Ministries Coordinator Robert Smith and featuring in-studio, socially-distant interviews with residents, many who are spiritual leaders in the community, offering insights designed to uplift and inform.
At 6:30 a.m. each day, another new program called "Mindful Morning" offers a ten-minute meditation led by Jill Homan and other members of the Wind Crest team, to help residents start their day with a sense of calm. These mindfulness practices encourage residents to take time to nourish their minds, bodies and spirits while focusing on gratitude, the beauty of nature, and more.
More than must-see TV
Throughout the community's response to coronavirus, the TV station team continued to produce two talk shows, Java and NiteSide, with residents occasionally "reporting live" from their apartment homes using their smartphone or computer video. Resident volunteers have continued gathering stories from around the community by phone, putting information together at home and coordinating with the staff to edit the programs.
In addition to continuing these programming staples, the Wind Crest TV team has also produced a number of special features to provide residents with a wealth of interactive options to ensure they are able to maintain valued relationships and preferred activities.
For example, during April, National Poetry Month, resident Peter Boyce and ten friends from the Wind Crest Readers' Theater group performed a virtual poetry reading via Zoom from their apartment homes, which was later aired on Wind Crest TV for all to enjoy.
Recently, a Candlelight Tribute was aired, acknowledging all those affected by the worldwide pandemic. And working in conjunction with the Dining Services team, the TV team was also able to host a Virtual Happy Hour. From the comfort of their apartment homes, nearly 1000 residents enjoyed a delivery of wine, cheese and grapes while watching a piano player perform on stage in the Arts & Enrichment center via TV.
"We had a great community culture and spirit before all this," reflected Craig Erickson, Executive Director at Wind Crest. "I can only imagine how powerful it's going to be when we all have a renewed value for the connections, relationships and interactions that we get to have every day."
For residents like Joe Knox, the TV station has provided an additional sense of community and calm during the pandemic. "We've felt well-protected and taken care of here," said Knox.
Now, he's glad to be back in the TV studio in a limited capacity, wearing his mask and practicing social distancing while he helps out with the cameras and switching.
"I love it," he says of his volunteer work, "it keeps me learning and involved."
About Wind Crest: Wind Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 84-acre campus in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,400 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 can be found at WindCrestRetirement.com.
Photo Caption: Wind Crest Resident Services Manager Jill Homann hosts "Mindful Mornings", a television program designed to help residents start their day with a sense of calm. The 10-minute guided mindfulness practice is one of the creative programs launched by the community's in-house TV station during the COVID-19 pandemic to support resident's multi-dimensional health and wellness.