I know that 2020 has not been what any of us expected it would be! Yet, it’s during these trying times that I believe the best in human spirit, creativity, and innovation come out. I am honored to have the most amazing team of 2500 staff members at Aegis Living, all of whom are dedicated to our residents and our mission. I have also been blessed to be a part of a few outreaches, touching local seniors as well as others in our Aegis Community.
So, I want to share some news that I feel is positive for our local communities as well as for the future of senior living care.
When the Coronavirus landed here in Seattle, just eight miles from our corporate offices, my mission became laser-focused on two things: How do we keep our residents and staff protected from the virus, and how can we help those in our community get through this time?
Looking at the seniors in my local community of Seattle, I became concerned for how seniors who were homebound or homeless were going to fare through this time. So, with the help of local corporate partners, Seattle Senior Strong was launched to meet the needs of these groups of seniors.
I am happy to say that, in only two months, a total of over $322,000 was raised and distributed to seniors through two local charities—Sound Generations and Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. It was an amazing effort and I am immensely proud to have been a part of serving the generation that raised us.
The other group I was passionate about supporting and protecting during this time was our Aegis employees. I can remember my mother, during a particularly difficult time in my youth, telling me, “Dwayne, no matter what you do, don’t ever forget where you came from and that you had to eat potato soup every day for a week. When you have employees, be there for them, and they will always be there for you.” I’ll never forget those sage words. Our staff has been working around the clock to implement all of the new standards and practices and to be there for our residents, so I knew we had to be there for them. Among other things, we’re providing meals to our staff and their families, working with employees on creative childcare solutions, and offering telehealth services for free to all staff. We’re also encouraging those who are experiencing financial hardships to use our Potato Soup Foundation, created to support staff during times of need.
I am truly humbled to be able to support the people I’m passionate about. I am also very proud of how our Aegis Living communities have stepped up, been innovative, and have safely navigated the stormy waters to get us to where we are today. I’d like to share a few of those special updates with you now.
The Transition from Sheltering-in-Place to Socializing Safely
A few months ago, I was quoted in a national publication that we would take reopening our Aegis facilities slowly. And we’ve stuck to that approach. During this time, while maintaining safe environments for our residents, we’ve also been planning for how we could safely reunite our residents with their loved ones and bring our community services back to a new and improved “normal.”
With that in mind, Aegis communities are safely beginning to reopen social spaces within a comprehensive, five-phase plan to carefully phase in services, activities, and dining. To be sure, our plan aligns company expertise with government guidelines and directives. Each phase listed below will be carried out for at least two weeks and we’ll host controlled pilots of key activities before programs are implemented across all 32 communities.
Phase 1: Limited Internal Opening with Physical Distancing
Phase 2: Limited Ancillary Services
Phase 3: Limited Visitors
Phase 4: Expanded Activities and Services
Phase 5: Expanded Dining and Visitation
Phase 1 will be initiated on a community-by-community basis and in accordance with state reopening orders and city/county directives. In order to embark on the next phase of activity, a community must not have active cases of COVID-19 among staff, residents, or essential visitors for a minimum of 14 days. Communities will return to Phase 0 if any symptoms of the virus are detected or a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs in a community.
Outdoor Living Room Experiences
Reconnecting residents with loved ones is one of the most important challenges I knew we had to overcome. As part of our reopening plan, I am proud to share Aegis’s newest innovation: our exclusive Outdoor Living Room Experiences. Our brightest minds in design have partnered with epidemiologists and infectious disease experts to craft beautiful, protective, and cozy living room spaces in all 32 communities for families to gather and visit with residents in person without risk of virus exposure.
Each Outdoor Living Room will have clear, sealed dividing walls made of plexiglass, standing about 7-feet tall, to separate the seating areas and prevent potential virus exposure. While the dividing wall was created to prevent virus droplet transmission, both residents and visitors will be asked to wear masks during visits. We just can’t be too careful. And, of course, all visitors will continue to follow screening protocols and infection-control best practices, including proper sanitization and handwashing.
All Outdoor Living Room Experiences allow for two visitors at a time and are scheduled with the community staff. We completely understand how difficult it has been for our residents and their families to be apart for so long, and I’m excited for this opportunity to begin bringing families back together again.
Coronavirus Advisory Council
The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the urgent need to provide leading-edge care for our residents. So I am also excited to announce the creation of the Aegis Living Coronavirus Advisory Council, a group comprised of renowned physicians and experts from some of the nation’s leading medical and research institutions whose expertise is critical to the health of our senior residents and our staff members.
For over 20 years, Aegis Living has used clinical experts to help develop our high standards, practices, and approaches to exceptional resident care. The new council will extend this expertise even further to prepare for today and well into the future.
The council is launching with seven members representing epidemiology, immunology, geriatrics, psychology, naturopathy, and more. You can learn more about each of the council members and plans for the council on the Aegis website.
As a company, we have stepped forward to help shape the future of the senior assisted living industry during this pandemic and beyond. Things will not go back to the way they used to be, so we must continue to use the latest science and medical research and our ingenuity to push new boundaries and create new ways of approaching resident care. Yes, these times have been tough, but we are learning new and great things that will allow our seniors to thrive!
Tell me, what positive changes have you seen in your community as a result of COVID-19?
Until next time, Live Long, Live Well.