At A Banyan Residence Assisted Living, we’ve chosen an approach that is unique compared to the rest of the senior living industry. Our community is designed to be an outdoor concept that promotes an active, healthy lifestyle and allows unrestricted access to nature, as people have had their entire lives.
We’ve chosen to dedicate more than half of our property to be the home to gardens, fish ponds, fountains, and walking paths because the benefits both physically and mentally are extraordinary. The mental benefits come through maintaining a connection to nature, being stimulated by the brilliant colors of unique flowers, and seeing wildlife like rabbits, blue jays, and butterflies in their natural habitat.
Interestingly, the physical benefits are not just achieved by having sunlight and acres of walking paths, but also come by having residents more spread out in an open air environment to help reduce transmission of disease or infection. These were factors we considered when deciding how to design our community to help prevent spread of diseases like the flu, but have never been more relevant as they are during this global pandemic.
As the world tries to navigate the risks associated with COVID-19, our community takes comfort in knowing we were purpose-built from the beginning to handle the outbreak of a virus like this.
It starts with controlling who comes in contact with our community, which is mitigated by a gate surrounding the property with only one point of entry. Even though staff and medically necessary personnel are the only people allowed on property in full personal protective equipment (PPE), everyone is still screened through an exhaustive process with extremely low thresholds for refusal for entry.
Our community sympathizes with families that are emotionally struggling because they cannot visit with their loved one, so we invested in our property to create a visitor area that allows for an in-person visit without obstructions like windows and still get the blessing of safety from the Department of Health.
While it isn’t a substitute to being able to sit and have dinner and a movie with a family member, it does help maintain a physical relationship and connection during a difficult time.
Our community has always emphasized maintaining an active and social lifestyle, from the minute a resident walks out of their room directly to the outdoors in the morning to when they go to bed.
Our team of activity coordinators are some of the most passionate and creative minds we have ever met. Their sole responsibilities are to coordinate an enrichment program that reaches all types of interests and abilities. To promote an outdoor lifestyle, we do many of these activities in one of our outdoor gazebos or by the fish pond to keep residents engaged.
At the onset, and as a way to manage risk surrounding COVID-19, we nearly doubled our activity staff to be able to sponsor more activities on property, while enabling us to also keep the group sizes strategically smaller.
Part of our enrichment offering included offsite trips to go to dinner, baseball games, movies, and aquariums, but the current reality does not allow this at the moment. We also will typically have live musicians perform on property at least four times per week, which is currently restricted.
As a way to maintain a lifestyle that our residents were used to, we now have regularly scheduled boutique food trucks from local businesses as well as live music visit our property for an outdoor BBQ with singing and dancing!
We encourage socialization between our residents and during meals is a great time to do it. To be responsible, we spread our tables apart to a safe distance and have reduced capacity at each meal to keep the groups smaller. We also have a pair of stainless steel grills in our giant outdoor BBQ area that we encourage residents to eat in so it’s an open-air environment.
Luckily we are on an island in Venice, FL and the weather is comfortable year-round so we can do outdoor dining any day we please. If a resident would rather eat in their room away from groups of people, we are more than happy to oblige and serve them their meal right in their living room.
We’re fortunate that we had the foresight to plan for an event like this and believe it’s the reason we have kept our residents COVID-free entirely. While nothing is perfect, our design gives us the best odds of any community to keep everyone safe for the duration of this virus, or at the very least keep the spread to an absolute minimum.