Question of the Month: Isolation Versus Socialization During COVID-19

How can operators meet the need for socialization while isolating residents as required by the pandemic?

Community is strengthened

By Brian Landrum

Senior Managing Director

Harbert Management Corp.

I have been inspired by the stronger sense of community and the bonds created between residents, families and staff during the pandemic. In terms of socialization across our portfolio, we have implemented family window visits, pen pal programs with local schools, employee recognition opportunities and virtual socialization. 

Video conferencing has never been so prevalent in our communities — a welcomed advancement for communication with loved ones. 

In addition, where we have outdoor courtyards and balconies, happy hour gatherings with food, drinks and musical entertainment have been crowd pleasers.

Opportunity to build relationships

By Josh Crisp

Founder & CEO


An important piece is educating team members on how to engage the residents through technology that they already have at their fingertips, like smartphones and laptops. Existing hardware like televisions, iPads and telephones are not threatening to them.

Underutilized technology is a simple way to stay connected. Smartphones are often only being used when people call the residents. But with the push of a button, a team member can connect residents to other residents and families. The opportunity to build relationships is needed now more than ever, and we must utilize digital options.

Virtual events bring us together

By Stephanie Harris

CEO & Principal 

Arrow Senior Living

In addition to residents being able to dine and socialize with other residents from their doorways within their community zones, we are using iN2L and tablets to enable a wider social network through virtual events. Our virtual calendar creates new opportunities for residents across communities to share performers, talent and special events. It is heartwarming for residents to connect with other Arrow communities.

Also, a “house cup” competition has been created that includes ways for staff and family members to assist residents to win. This friendly competition rewards connection and safe practices.

Make residents feel valued

By Lauren Tash

Director of Lifestyle Services

Peachtree Hills Place

At Peachtree Hills Place in Atlanta, we were forced to think outside the box. Although all events and activities were canceled, social life didn’t have to end. Our team was determined to adapt to this new normal and provide social opportunities. 

We started with daily newsletters that included a resident spotlight, workout routine, social activity, cognitive puzzle, recipe and inspirational quote. From there, we began delivering gifts weekly. These ranged from orchids to homemade cookies to logo masks. 

The first PHP Book Club was held via Zoom. Food trucks came to the neighborhood, and we even held a live music night in the courtyard while residents watched and listened from their balconies. Although we can’t control what is going on in the world, we can control how we react to it.

A delicate balance

By Matthew Alley

Managing Director

Senior Living Investment Brokerage

One of the major reasons people move into seniors housing is their ability to socialize with both residents and staff. The activities, shared meals and frequent staff interaction will likely increase both the length and quality of a senior’s life. Additionally, visits from friends and family members from outside the facility can provide a sense of normalcy. 

The need to protect seniors from COVID-19 requires resident isolation from people both within the facility and outside of it. Thankfully, we live in an age of technology where through FaceTime, Zoom and other platforms, seniors can still be connected to their loved ones. It is important for staff members to be available to assist seniors with the technology needed to facilitate these interactions.

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