October 14th, 2020
Update from CEO, Melody Gabriel
Many of you have reached out to ask how we are doing at Generations. Thank you for your interest and concern. Like so many companies are experiencing, we too find it a challenge to manage a business during these times, but it is also deeply inspiring. Unusual times ask more of us and ask for solutions of the strangest circumstances of our lifetimes. Behind the scenes a team of deeply dedicated employees are thinking of you and approaching each challenge with our mission and cherish values in mind, with the goal of supporting the service excellence expected of each of our community team members. More specifically, however, we are happy to share some updates on things we are working on, our current financial situation, and how we are serving those we care about.
In those moments when its challenging to have the personal determination to choose our attitude and keep a positive mindset, the energy level can be low and lightly depressed. The past 7 months have taken a toll on all of us in unique ways and we decided this was a good moment to seek inspiration from shared stories – which means we held a contest! Staff at Generations where challenged to come up with a companywide #hashtag for social media. The goal was simple: raise creative energy, have some fun, and bring the spirit of comradery. #GenerationsNation was the clear winner from Jasmin Hernandez at Carmel Village. We look forward to sharing ways we celebrate the #GenerationsNation on social media. Join us at:
A Business Update
Over the past 76 years I have heard many stories, or lessons, from my dad and Generations founder, Wendell White, on how best to run a business such as ours. For those new to his story, Wendell literally grew up in senior living at the community his grandparents ran with the family and over the decades has dedicated himself to service excellence to seniors through operating communities focused on quality care and culture. From the background of this history, my dad recently reminded me that the events of 2020 are like no other he has ever witnessed in this industry. We are truly in uncharted times!
From a business perspective there are many challenges that are unique and unexpected to this pandemic. The investment in supplies and the task of sourcing supplies has been significant. Most of these expenses consist of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks, face covers, gloves and gowns) and disinfectant supplies and services over and above normal costs. Many expenses include various hero benefits, including meals to staff to reduce the need to leave campus, as well as ongoing hero pay provided to employees of communities that faced COVID cases onsite at the start of the pandemic. Other emergency expenses include additional labor surrounding the time needed to follow infection control precautions for all departments for all aspects of their work, temporary staffing, ongoing staff testing expenses and testing labor, additional labor for reporting obligations, increased staff training, and food delivery supplies.
Although this dramatic increase in expenses is mostly “invisible” to the naked eye, we find that doing less is not a choice. We are committed to a pandemic strategy that holds safety, infection control, and wellness as its primary objectives. The goal of safe and healthy communities runs deep with both the Generations family as well as the owners. We are weathering this storm by balancing difficult decision and constantly fine tuning to be excellent stewards of your community.
Generation Medical Director
Dr. Reza Esfahani has joined us as the Generations Medical Director. He will assist us in testing efforts, serve as a reference point for clinical and infection control measures, and will provide support and insight in the event of COVID outbreaks. Dr Esfahani resides in Denver, Colorado and serves as the Acute Care Medical Director for our Montage Ridge and Montage Hills communities. We are grateful for his expertise and wisdom.
Generations Family Foundation
We are passionate about being there when emergency relief is needed for our cherished employees and residents. The Generations Family Foundation (GFF) is a non-profit focused on charitable giving to those in financial hardship because of an emergency. COVID has been a driving force in the lives of many. Application submissions have dramatically picked up, with most being related to urgent financial need due to the loss of employment of a spouse or significant other. The GFF team has been working diligently to quickly vet applications and meet with application review committees in order to get emergency financial support to our employees as quickly as possible.
These few highlights are just part of our work to ensure that we continue to be an operator of choice, and that Generations communities continue to be objects of industry admiration and environments our residents and employees are proud to be a part of. Thank you for being part of the #GenerationsNation. The best part of all of this is being in it together, even if 6 feet apart.
All my best,
Melody Gabriel, CEO
October 6th, 2020
Top Ten Reasons to Choose a Generations Community
These reasons, and more, are why out of 3,500 Generations residents and employees, we have had less than 2% positive COVID cases. You have our promise that we will continue to be vigilant. It is working.
1. Thriving Vitality Program – We’re finding innovative and safe ways for residents to engage through small group classes, outdoor activities and virtual programs.
2. Enhanced Safety Measures – Staff are following intense disinfection protocols several times throughout the day.
3. Transparent and Consistent Communication – Each community updates residents, family members, and employees through zoom calls, email, letters, and posting on our Generations website.
4. Steadfast and True Staff – Every employee has signed a personal commitment statement, which includes using good judgement while off-duty.
5. Dedication to Excellence – We require more of our teams in terms of standards and higher levels of precaution, and they continue to exceed our expectations.
6. Comprehensive Screening
We screen all staff and all visitors for risk
at a higher level than CDC recommendation, and ours were some of the first communities to do so.
7. Commitment to PPE – More than $1 million has been invested in PPE and we are continuously procuring community PPE before it is needed.
8. Visitation Options – We are going to great lengths to create options for visiting loved ones, such as visitation windows, hug walls, and outdoor spaces.
9. Masks are Mandatory – Absolutely everyone MUST wear a mask. No exceptions. We have had this mandate in effect since the earliest days of COVID.
10. Agility – We actively refine our strategies and policies in our COVID manual so that we can respond quickly and effectively.
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
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