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
May 15th, 2020
Staying Focused and Thinking of Others
Wishful memories hit me hard every once in a while. Thoughts of having family over, dining with my husband at our favorite now closed restaurant, meeting with friends, and getting nails done create longing for liberties just not possible in this new ‘normal’. Some days it takes more effort to redirect my mind from missed things toward all the things I am grateful for, so our culture topic this month, gratitude has come at a very good time. But as we see the country slowly open up, those longings, I expect, will continue to grow.
For all that I feel the pull, I do keep focused on doing the right things. It helps to think about you and how every effort means something. I think about our residents and model the strength and patience I see. I think about our staff and, as they do, count to 20 while handwashing. I think about families with loved ones on our campuses and how that trust requires that I too wear my mask and practice social distancing. I am grateful for the encouragement thoughts of you bring. Our diligence is critical to keeping our loved ones, our fellow residents and coworkers, safe.
You may have questions about ‘when’ – when community visiting opens up again, when it is safe to engage with outside family and friends for a drive, when will scenic drives and salons return, and when we can host community celebrations again. With abundant caution, we are preparing for the future and preparations are in motion for the weeks and months ahead. Community signage will be placed in the next week to remind us to physically distance and properly and frequently wash hands, committees are working on how to organize safe small group Vitality activities, and strategies for dining rooms are coming together, along with how to welcome visitors back to the community in a safe manner. Please know our focus firstly is always the safety of our people. We will follow guidance from our local health departments and as authorized state and local “phasing back” stages, but we look forward to having some answers to share for many questions of ‘when’.
Community Updates: We have updated the Generations web site to reflect any positive cases of COVID-19 in staff and residents. Please see the COVID-19 link on each community website or go to www.generationsllc.com.
The following are some continued and ongoing actions:
- We remain in communication with health officials to ensure we stay in alignment and have been ahead in our practices.
- We continue with recommended and best practice infection control procedures, internal teams have enhanced regiments of disinfection, and we continue to refresh protocol training, such as PPE procedure and hand hygiene.
- In the event of a potential exposure on campus, our initial response strategy, to be done with thoroughness and care, includes immediately investigating facts; meeting with leadership to ensure accurate information and consistency of response; contacting those/the families of those possibly exposed and ensuring appropriate actions and monitoring; meeting with our entire staff family to share facts, answer questions, reinforce infection control protocol, and discuss any additional measures to be taken; and communicating with our entire resident family and their families to share facts, response strategies, and invite questions.
- We continue to monitor residents in care daily, keeping a sharp and educated eye out for all symptoms and changes in behavior or condition.
- Though not needed for symptoms, we have a universal requirement of facemasks for all staff and visitors and ask essential visitors to provide their own where at all possible. We continue to invite volunteers with sewing skills to support this inventory. Anyone interested is welcome to reach out to email@example.com.
- We continue to screen everyone who enters.
- We continue to not permit visitors (with end of life exceptions) and invite engagement by facetime, phone, family connection window stations, etc. Our team can assist!
- We are maintaining important critical emergency supplies and are sustaining them.
- Our Vitality teams continue to focus on engaging our residents to limit physical contact, but are encouraging engagement. As social distancing policy continues and group activities remain suspended, hallway activities from doorways continue. Memory care teams focus on lots of one on one time.
- We assign duties to limit staff to specific areas (“cohorting”) to reduce campus-wide interaction.
- We are prepared to shelter staff who wish it, to limit potential of their being exposed to coronavirus in public, off-duty, or at home, or to better support their team.
- We continue to actively hire to ensure a good back up so only healthy staff are serving.
- We have taken steps to cherish our employees through the unique needs of this challenge, providing free shift meals, getting creative with our hours, and ensuring a full complement of leadership all days of the week.
- Members of our Generations Home Office are phoning-a-friend, working through our resident phonebook, just to check in, see how they are doing, and what we can do to facilitate connections with loved ones.
- We continue to manage drop off locations for online orders/delivery, using the main campus entrance address and ensuring internal transfer to residents.
Thank you for standing with us and thank you for keeping me strong.
All my best,
Melody Gabriel, CEO
May 9th, 2020
Celebrating Our Mothers~ A Message from Chip Gabriel, Executive Chairman
This Sunday we celebrate an amazing gift to all of us – mothers. It won’t be the same, as we won’t be able to get together as normal, hug, give (or, for some of you, get) presents, share a meal, or any number of other traditions we each have. Nonetheless, celebrate we will as we adopt to the needs of the moment.
For all that I wish we could postpone Mother’s Day until it can be celebrated with our favorite traditions and closeness, maybe this holiday brings us something we need right in this moment. As a I child, I remember when I was scared, my mother was there to hold me, talk to me, and make me feel better. When I was sick or hurt, mom was be there, with care and kindness to start the healing process and provide calm and comfort. In my childhood memories, my mom was amazing. With the perspective of adulthood, she remains an amazing person I am lucky and blessed to celebrate. Watching my wife be such a similar pillar of strength and love for our children, I cannot help but feel awe for the incredible gift it is to have such a person in your life.
While Mother’s Day is about cherishing and honoring those women we love, right now as our world is rocked like never before, maybe there is a gift hidden in the holiday for us too. Reflecting on a lifetime of strong caring woman in my life brings memories of their influence during turmoil. I am reminded both of times of fear and uncertainty, but also what overcoming and healing past it looked like – and so much of that was in the example they set or with the good sense they imparted.
I do not know exactly how we get through this, but I do know that we will and I take strength from what my mother showed me growing up. She would say if we stick together with love, respect, and discipline, and do the right things for all of us, we will ALL be better for it. She is usually right.
This Mother’s Day let’s thank and love every mother. Let’s remember to do it while adhering to best practices for dealing with this nasty virus. Wash hands, physical distance, wear a mask, and respect guidelines that protect residents and staff.
And, to our mothers out there, I send awe, love, and a wish for a very happy Mother’s Day to you all.
Chip Gabriel, Executive Chairman
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