September 18th, 2020
National Assisted Living Week
This week, senior housing communities across the nation have taken time to pause and focus their attention and their grateful hearts on the special people and teams who serve assisted living residents. Throughout Generations’ communities, we too, are celebrating our cherished staff members. All of our teams, including care, culinary and wait staff, maintenance and housekeeping, and Vitality and support staff play an integral role in not only providing care but a lifestyle that is nurturing, supportive and enriching.
During these challenging times, our teams strive to stay safe at work in order to protect our cherished residents and each other. They also remain diligent in practicing these same safety precautions at home, while continuing to balance life with their own families and kids, many of whom are remote learning. We have asked a great deal of them and these cherished staff members continue to bring us their dedication, joy and hope for a better, although different, future. Their stories continue to inspire me.
This reminds me of a quote I love from Maya Angelou;
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our Hero’s and She-Roes!”
Our celebrations this past week have looked different then they have in the past but none the less heartfelt. Please join me in sharing a smile, words of kindness, and special appreciation for these teams who serve us so well.
Thank you for standing with us.
All my best,
Melody Gabriel, CEO
July 24th, 2020
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose ~ Update from Melody, our CEO
There are some ‘sayings’ that fire people up; some quotes that pluck at the heart and fill us with energy and renewed strength. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” I think phrases like this work because they paint a vision and invoke a deep emotion. They connect us both together and to a truth. Usually in that vision and emotion, whatever the quote, there is a universal note, even if quiet – hope. Connected to our truth, with clarity of vision and passionate intention, we can be intentional about where we go from where we stand now.
And where we stand now is a doozy. Four months into a pandemic and continued unrest around racial injustice, and it is clear this is a time without a lot of ‘normal’. One thing, however, is always true – you joined a family when you came to live and work here. You belong to a Generations family and we take care of each other. That truth is our strength. People on campus love you, value you, and want to see you thrive. Our motto is ‘we are a family caring for families” because that is our truth. I think having clear eyes around this leads each of us to make good choices personally, knowing the role we play in each other’s lives. I also hope that for any moment of this long road where you felt weary or lonely or a little blue, because each of us has been there, that knowing we are part of something together and you are not alone has warmed your heart. Even as we physically distance, we are connected. You are surrounded by family. Please reach out when you need support. Between our Generations Family Foundation, employee assistance programs, resident councils, support teams, and all the other resources at hand, we are here for you.
With our ‘cherish’ values in mind, the employee part of that family continues to evolve the design of how we operate. We are seeing each department push outside of preconceived notions and boundaries on how we execute everyday programs, services, and amenities. This is a marathon and we are looking both at the moment and to the foreseeable future. Our efforts have had stops and starts, clever things that worked and good tries that didn’t, or had to be rolled back to stay aligned with evolving local or state guidelines. Vitality programming, culinary services, salons, and every other department continues to adjust to the new and changing normal. Thank you for bearing with us on this journey as we work to meet the moment. Finding new ways to live normal community life while staying safe for each other has been a tremendous exercise in balancing imagination and practicality. We will continue to fine tune our approaches, so we are the vibrant community that drew you to us originally.
Which leads me to joy. The second part of our mission is about celebrating living. There is nothing a pandemic brings that should take our eye off that prize. Let’s work hard to prioritize play and fun in each day. It is one of our greatest tools for loving each other and enhancing lives around us. Some of my favorite community photos recently have been ‘dinosaurs’ and butterfly wings running down the halls, karaoke duets on the patio, the 15-year anniversary tropical bonanza, smiling faces at visiting snow cone and ice cream trucks, and outdoor sing-a-longs. Speaking of full hearts, those are moments that remind us what we are fighting for – the joy of being together and having fun doing it.
Lastly, please let me thank you for staying the course with us. In our 77-year history of service to seniors, there has not been an experience like this. We have never had to depend so greatly on every single one of us sticking together in our commitments toward safety measures – physical distancing, avoiding gatherings, vigilantly wearing masks, and practicing surgeon-like levels of frequent hand hygiene. Each of us has our lives to live and will daily face choices about what we do, where we go, who we see. Some of those choices include calculated risks. Thank you for every time you made the safer choice, the harder choice, because you remembered that your Generations family counts on you. What is more, thank you for every time you bravely shared with us when the choice made was not the safe one, so that we could have honest conversations and take action to protect everyone. All of it together equips us to keep our community family and home as healthy as possible. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Thank you again for standing with us!
All my best,
Melody Gabriel, CEO
June 12th, 2020
Behind the Scenes, Coming Back Together, and Inclusive Culture
As summer rolls in, things around us are opening up, and our attention is pulled to all the things that the moment calls us to address, the energy around us is changing.
On campus, weariness to move forward is certainly part of it, but excitement too. We want to be together again, which is the best part about communal living. While senior living communities are last or Phase 4 of any State or Federal ‘re-opening’ rollout, we continue current required restrictions and protocols even as our local areas step slowly forward and back through State and County ordinances.
We have, however, began internal re-openings wherever the local Health Departments have allowed and where community teams have completed all the behind the scenes preparations. Some of our communities have re-opened their Vitality Centers (gyms), adopting rather extensive Generations requirements in their operations, many of which were adopted from feedback of meetings with communities’ Resident Councils, including screening, reservations, and arrangements to ensure physical distancing and infection control. Where there is a way to make these spaces healthy and safe. Additionally, Vitality teams continue to work hard to bring recreation and meaningful activities to our people and are ready to engage residents at each phase of re-opening. We are invigorated by even the smallest lifting of local restrictions and celebrations have been fueled by sunshine and fresh air, such as some campus parades to celebrate milestone birthdays and graduations and musicians, singers, and circus performers have brought their talents to our courtyards and walking paths to fill the afternoons with music and silliness.
Some of our communities are re-opening their Salons, working closely with vendors on their commitments to be our campus/client-exclusive and COVID-response strategies, including getting tested, adoption of Generations and Health Department guidelines, and arrangements for staggered appointments, physical distancing, PPE, infection control measures, breaks between clients for airing out and disinfection, and screening residents.
Our Sales teams have embraced comprehensive direction on when and how move-ins might be allowed and are working with Executive Directors and those future residents, families and physicians on the myriad of precautions and requirements involved. (We are a little proud of the fact that even during the challenges of the pandemic, people are anxious and excited to join the family.)
Perhaps most anticipated, our dining rooms are phasing back service. It would be hard to judge who is most excited for this, but our Culinary teams have expressed being thrilled to see their resident friends again, as they spruce up the spaces, prepare new table menus, work through any regional food vendor limitations, re-work traffic flow and add seating hostesses (who in IL will also have resident screening duties), re-organize and limit headcounts with reservations for staggered seatings with disinfection periods between, remove all table pre-set and shared or self-serve items, and review details of all current and enhanced infection control measures related to culinary services. We are very proud of Culinary teams and their leaders for the tremendous work that has gone into this effort.
But the energy changing is not merely internal. As a company we know how many of our people are directly affected by personal life experiences and experiences of loved ones that protesters around the country are speaking to. I loved hearing our Human Resources Directors recently discuss our dedication to a culture for employees and residents that is inclusive of the mind, body, spirit, gender, ethnicity, race, generation, culture, sexual orientation, and any other way that someone is an individual and person. We treasure a culture of inclusion and appreciate the millions of individual efforts required to maintain and foster it. Thank you for not standing by when you hear an inappropriate joke or term. Thank you for having constructive conversations, even when they are difficult.
But being inclusive and “not racist” is not enough for America to heal. I believe it is important, especially for those of us with any degree of removal, to learn more about racial inequality. It is not the job of those who are experiencing pain to teach us; the responsibility for growth is always a personal one. If this resonates with you and you are looking to further understanding, some suggestions I have come across include taking up topic-focused reading material (such as How to Be an Antiracist, White Fragility, or So You Want To Talk About Race), following more broad or diverse people on social media, and watching celebrated films that bring to life the historical background (such as Just Mercy, Selma, and 13th).
Lastly, the energy around us is changing as we look to summer. This is a season light and our human selves cannot help but respond to it. I hope you make time to take a walk outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine on your shoulders – and feel the energy warm your heart with all the things we have to look forward to in days to come.
Thank you for standing with us.
All my best,
Melody Gabriel, CEO
June 3rd, 2020
Hearing Every Voice ~ a heartfelt message from our CEO, Melody Gabriel
We build or grow our communities on a dream of what we can be together. We picture that those who live here will take ownership of an opportunity to engage in a new definition of family, finding caring friends and loving staff, ready support, and an environment of amenities, engagement, and activity that fosters whatever Vitality journey is most personally meaningful. We picture that those who work here will find themselves belonging to a sort of movement – a calling to serve with excellence, heart, and dedication – and that here they will find a place in which to grow, contribute, and bring their best selves. We picture that all those on the outside but associated with our communities will admire our family culture and dedication to values and see a profound understanding of the ‘why’ of what we do clear in our choices and actions. It is a dear thing to build a community with a dream of what we want it to be and what we are aiming for – a community of people together, enhancing each other’s lives and celebrating living.
In the face of a pandemic that has made us pause hugs, cover smiles with masks, and challenges enjoyed moments of togetherness, this vision is harder to pursue. It takes more imagination, creativity, and a great deal of patience and teamwork. However, the world chooses to act in an era of coronavirus, our communities will take care to defend our people.
The recent murder of George Floyd and all the erupting heartbreak, anger, frustration, fear, and grief across the country from years and years of experiences that have broken dreams and crushed opportunity brings to light another challenge and we see it as another call to care for our people, for us to care for each other. We are passionate about having an inclusive loving home and work environment committed to recognizing and calling out racism and prejudice
Our cherished values are rooted in a tradition of listening and hearing all voices, in celebrating the cultural vibrancy we have when everyone feels valued as an individual, safe to share who they are, and free to be honest about what they need. Many use the term family. We mean it. I invite everyone in our Generations universe to engage in actions that support our dream – a community sense of home, enhancing each other’s lives, cherishing each other – because the comfort of being heard and the grounding of being a family matter. Please find ways to show an extra share of love or kindness this week. Simple and small acts can speak volumes and may help as we process and grieve the pain around us and within.
Thank you for standing with us.
Melody Gabriel, CEO
May 22nd, 2020
Masks – Our New Normal.. A message from our VP of Operations, Therese Achatz
We are at a somewhat exciting moment! Our communities are entering a new phase of planning and it will allow us to slowly start coming together again. Community leadership will share plans as their teams have all required pieces in place and local community guidelines give us the go-ahead.
As we come together more, an increased risk to each other is simply a reality. But a crucial piece for safely coming together again is the donning of a mask. Previously, our communities have advised and encouraged residents to wear masks outside of their apartment home. Hopefully, we have answered all resident questions about properly ‘donning and doffing’ a mask to avoid bringing contamination to it, and to your face. (Hand hygiene is critical to never touching a mask with dirty hands!)
In order to protect everyone, we are teaming up to have all residents wear a mask outside of their apartment home. We know some residents must have an exception for medical and tolerance issues. That is okay – we will work with those residents. It is also true that as dining rooms and cafés return to service, masks do not work while enjoying a meal.
We are keeping our communities safe and healthy and we are standing together as a family.
We are so excited to enjoy these next steps! Residents and family members, please stay tuned for specifics from your campus leadership and please stay safe and well.
Therese Achatz, VP of Operations
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