The days, weeks and months have dragged on for many of us during the coronavirus pandemic. Seniors in particular have downshifted their lifestyles in order to stay safe. But at Martha Franks Retirement Community, a renaissance of sorts has taken place. Residents have found themselves cheerfully occupied and creatively inspired, in addition to being well-cared-for, as always. According to Lynn McQueen, director of marketing, the community has thrived thanks to the staff’s innovative approach, and residents are not only staying virus-free, they’re actually happy.
Outdoor activities have been popular the last several months, and Martha Franks has taken advantage of its 55 acres of land to keep residents connected to nature. With a sunny sidewalk surrounding a pond, mature trees and beautiful landscaping to admire, everyone enjoys getting outside for abundant fresh air and exercise “whether through walks or rides on the golf cart provided by activity staff,” said McQueen.
Besides nature, people need other people, and Martha Franks has made sure residents feel well-connected with their entire community, albeit safely. A spring parade, planned by the independent living residents to honor the staff, brought smiles to everyone’s faces as they watched through apartment windows. Shopping for groceries and essentials was safe and easy, thanks to the addition of an on-site supermarket during the quarantine. An in-house TV channel enables residents to watch exercise classes and worship services from every living accommodation on campus. Attending chapel in person is also a safe choice, thanks to multiple services offered each week.
“Meeting spiritual needs is part of total wellness,” McQueen noted. “Most of our residents chose Martha Franks Retirement Community for its faith-based environment.”
When it comes to staying connected with family, creative communication – more than the ordinary “how was your day” variety – is encouraged at Martha Franks. Loved ones have lifted spirits much more than the standard FaceTime or call could, singing songs and providing musical concerts. One resident even received an interpretive dance movement outside her window as a special Mother’s Day surprise.
The staff has orchestrated various celebrations, with friends and relatives of residents offering details to make things special. McQueen described how two couples celebrating the wedding anniversaries of a lifetime were honored with special meals, flowers and cake. One couple received a singing performance of “their” song from the wedding day and a framed photograph of the event – plus a framed photo of the original nuptials, submitted by family. For another couple, a festive drive around campus with “their” song playing topped off the afternoon.
Even afternoon quiet time comes with its perks. A weekly cart comes around, delivering activities and art projects. Local churches and organizations have stepped up, providing handmade masks for residents and staff. One individual made cloth masks specifically for veterans on campus, honoring different branches of the military. And the campus recreational therapist generously painted the room windows of skilled nursing residents, giving them their own beautiful view.
“While I know it’s been a difficult time for families, the positive aspect is remembering that our residents are safe and in a good environment,” McQueen said. “I think our community and staff have done an excellent job. We see these residents as our family.”
To learn more about Martha Franks Retirement Community, visit www.marthafranks.com.
By Denise K. James