Seniors find strength in staff and resident friendships in retirement communities

For residents of Canadian retirement communities, physical contact with family and friends hasn’t been possible or has been limited for several months due to social distancing restrictions to keep one another safe and flatten the curve.

Yet, being apart from loved ones doesn’t mean seniors living in retirement residences are alone. While not being able to physically visit with their family is difficult to endure, residents are finding comfort, compassion and connection not only among one another, but in their home’s friendly team of staff—from receptionists and recreation aides to the maintenance, food service and personal support staff they’ve come to know and trust.

These are the people who are already like a second family to them. Residents feel a sense of community and belonging while living in a retirement community and build friendships with fellow residents, as well as meaningful relationships with staff based on mutual respect and genuine caring. During recent months, those bonds have grown even stronger as staff, residents and their families continue to find new ways to come together in solidarity.

How Chartwell staff are keeping spirits high

In Chartwell residences, staff have been helping to organize video chats with residents’ families on a regular basis to help keep them connected. At one Chartwell residence, the Lifestyle & Program Manager even transformed these chats into extra-special occasions by setting up a table in a private corner of the library—complete with flowers and a special meal—so residents could talk and laugh over a family dinner with their loved ones on-screen.

At another Chartwell community, a staff member started a new “Happy Hour” tradition. With residents staying safe in their suites, she began playing lively music in the halls every afternoon. Residents knew this was the signal that a drink was on its way, and they loved the uplifting atmosphere it created, raising a glass to one another in their doorways.

All of our residences have been coming up with fun in-suite activities to keep residents entertained and engaged—from crossword puzzles to trivia competitions for delicious snacks—and at another Chartwell home, a resident known for his great sense of humour teamed up with a staff member to compile his best jokes to distribute to everyone. All of these daily deliveries help keep residents smiling and feeling positive while staying safe in their suites.

Staff feel supported and encouraged by residents’ families

Adding to the sense of unity are residents’ families, who have been so appreciative of staff’s efforts, counting on them to help stay connected with their loved ones and support their wellbeing while they are unable to. Baked with love, amazing cookies and other sweet treats—as well as cards, signs and other wonderful expressions of gratitude—arrive regularly at many Chartwell residences.

Solidarity among residents

The family atmosphere at a retirement residence also extends to the strong friendships many seniors have within the home. Those friendships have become even more important, given that for many people, leaving their residence now puts them at risk. There is a strong sense of comradery among residents, as they understand exactly what each other is experiencing and can offer one another encouragement and support.

Staff have been finding many creative ways of keeping residents connected with one another, including in-suite games, hallway fitness classes and establishing proper physical distancing in dining rooms.

No one—and at this time, especially seniors—should ever feel alone. Older adults and their families can take comfort and find peace of mind knowing that staff and residents will always be there for them in their Chartwell retirement residence.