After more than three months of limited movement and socializing, residents at United’s two communities are enjoying the safe and gradual relaunch of programming, fitness classes, bistro and dining room meal services and more socializing with other residents – while adhering to the guidelines and orders as set out by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH). The easing of restrictions means that residents can enjoy more of the things that United has become well-known for.
“When we developed a plan for reopening the communities, we looked to guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the protocols they have in place for older adult communities,” said Kelly Johansson, executive director of operations. “Our protocols differ from the ones that are in place for the greater community because of the greater risk to our residents. These tighter protocols are a good thing, and everyone understands why it’s taking longer to ease the restrictions.”
A questionnaire was sent out asking residents to outline their priorities for United’s relaunch plan. At the top of the list was reopening the dining room and bistro. Breakfast and lunch service has already resumed and dinner service is expected to follow shortly. Next on the list was United’s varied programming and fitness classes.
“Fitness was the first program to once again welcome residents,” said Kim Coulter, program development and creative expressions manager. “We started with baby steps offering small classes with a few residents in each class. We’ve gradually expanded that. Fitness is such an important program both for physical and mental health, and the social benefit that comes from it. Many residents were walking regularly in the courtyard, or exercising in their suites, but there is more variety in a fitness class, which is very beneficial.”
Understandably, meals are an important part of the day, and United’s unrestricted dining options were missed. Prior to COVID, residents could eat what they wanted, when they wanted and with whom they wanted. There were no seating assignments and complete flexibility. Today, to ensure physical distancing guidelines are followed, United has temporarily instituted three seatings at lunch, ensuring that tables are kept proper distance and offering smaller tables for two residents.
“I’ve lived at Fish Creek for about a year, and I was so excited when they opened the dining room for lunch,” said Yvette DeGagne. “I dressed up that first day. I looked terrific!” she quipped. While she remains cautious about the virus, she is anxious to see the restrictions lifted. “I think United is doing the best job to protect us, but it can be difficult for some people. I love the programming, so I’m excited for the community to get rolling again.”
Following the direction of the CMOH, United has been facilitating outside visits and walks with residents and their designated essential visitor and an additional guest. There have been areas set up outside to accommodate these visits, which are very popular especially since the nice weather.
Programming is restarting, but without outside entertainment and with limited seating. The first program in the theatre in three months will be a televised Michael Bublé concert. The program will be shown several times to accommodate as many people as possible.
Since the art studios at both communities are still closed, the creative facilitators will be holding watercolour painting workshops in the courtyard. The facilitators are working in other areas of United’s operations while the art studio is closed, but will slowly return to developing new programs for residents as restrictions continue to loosen.
“I’m looking forward to the opening of the art studio,” said resident Olive Hein. “When I moved to Fish Creek three years ago, I had never painted, but now I’ve found a new passion and during the restrictions I’ve been painting in my suite.” Olive says she has 40 to 50 paintings hanging on her walls. “I’m also physically active. I’m glad the exercise program has started up, but I used to run marathons when I was younger, so I’ve been walking in the courtyard. Usually 10 to 15 times around each day.”
“It is so refreshing to see the residents out and about in the community, enjoying the meals and laughing and waving to their friends,” said Kim. “And that makes us feel better too.”
Take a look at our Public Service Announcement.
The restrictions on visiting mean that tours aren’t available right now, but don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once we are able to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.
Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.