How a Florida Independent Living Community Uses Caremerge to Connect Residents During COVID-19

Two months into this pandemic, senior living communities have adapted to ensure their residents’ safety and wellbeing. Many have found success leveraging existing systems in new ways, and most are still assessing what more they can do.

In many communities, technology has proven to be an essential means for keeping residents connected. John Knox Village is a large Florida senior living community in Pompano Beach, Florida. When COVID-19 arrived in the States, this community quickly turned Caremerge’s solution into a hub for virtual programming and daily communications about the pandemic. 

We spoke to Life Enrichment Program Director Jamisyn Becker and Marketing Director Kim Morgan about how they use the platform to inform and engage residents while social distancing measures are in place.

Before COVID-19: Caremerge Rollout and Custom Branding

John Knox Village (JKV) started using Caremerge’s Resident app and Calendar Central for about a year before the start of the pandemic. During this period, about 300 independent living residents regularly used the app. Prior to that, JKV’s robust community programming hosted over 400 events per month, all manually scheduled by staff using sign-up sheets in the lobby.

To make Caremerge’s platform look familiar to residents, JKV branded it as JKVConnect. Kim Morgan says, “It was easy to configure Caremerge’s technology as an extension of the John Knox Village brand. With JKV’s name and logo on the platform, it’s more familiar to residents. It helped a lot with adoption.” 

The community directors eventually want more of the community to benefit from the platform. They hope to continue educating more residents to use the app and introduce voice technology once they have the capacity.

Streamlining COVID-19 Communications within John Knox Village

John Knox Village directors knew back in March that communicating about the crisis to every single resident was a priority. With JKVConnect already a part of 300 residents’ everyday life, transforming the platform into an information center for COVID-19 updates was a quick fix. 

The community took these steps to ensure all JKV residents, regardless of their communication preferences, have access to the latest updates:

  1. Added all COVID-19 relevant information to JKVConnect.
  2. Created a COVID-19 landing page on the JKV website, including: community prevention measures, local news, best practices for safety, and other helpful resources.
  3. Integrated the life enrichment schedule into the landing page on the JKV website.
  4. Synchronized daily updates across platforms, including the JKVConnect portal, building kiosks, email, and paper copies.

“Residents who had already been using JKVConnect before COVID-19 found the app to be an easy way to stay informed about the pandemic’s impact inside and outside of their community.” — Jamisyn Becker, Life Enrichment Program Director at John Knox Village 

Life Enrichment Goes Virtual to Battle Social Isolation

One of the biggest challenges for people of all ages during COVID-19 lockdowns has been maintaining an active social life, including connections with friends and family. To stave off the negative impacts of social isolation, JKV moved its life enrichment program almost entirely online and created a calendar full of exciting virtual programming using Caremerge’s Calendar feature.

Some of the remote independent living activities on John Knox Village’s calendar have included:

  • Zoom happy hours
  • Zoom book clubs
  • Zoom birthday parties

JKV has also used Caremerge to build modules with online entertainment, including virtual museum tours, fitness classes, and TED Talks. Resident users can do those activities at any time directly through the online portal.

Becker says that with over a month into social distancing, “residents have not only gotten used to online activities – they’ve been able to discover new hobbies or social events they hadn’t gotten around to before.”

Becker and Morgan have also observed that residents love being able to see which activities friends sign up for, which the Calendar feature lets them do even when activities are all virtual – they can keep away social isolation by finding like-minded residents.

Engagement Technology Creates a Sense of Community in a Crisis and Beyond

Now that Florida recently moved into phase one of reopening, John Knox Village has gradually begun to reopen. Groups of 10 are now allowed to congregate while wearing face coverings and adhering to social distancing guidelines, and JKV’s dining room and fitness center have resumed minimal operations with strict safety measures in place.

Still, many JKV residents feel safest at home. Thanks to virtual activities and digital communications, they can feel connected to their community as they find their own new normals that make them feel most comfortable.

For senior living residents all over the country, whether still in lockdown or in communities that are starting to reopen, communication is crucial. Having an agile tech platform in place makes that communication a lot easier. In calm times and throughout this crisis, JKV has been able to make the most of Caremerge’s technology to serve residents’ social and information needs. 

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