Tour­ing Our Com­mu­ni­ties Dur­ing COVID

Dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times, the demo­graph­ic most high­ly at risk for COVID-19, seniors, are some­times ner­vous about leav­ing their homes in order to look at retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties. Iron­i­cal­ly, they’re strong­ly moti­vat­ed to move so as not to have to spend anoth­er Chica­go win­ter at home, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Mov­ing to one of our senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties means that a senior is safe and has access to every­thing they need with­out hav­ing to go out. There are friends and activ­i­ties to keep them busy, a fit­ness and aquat­ic cen­ter, live and taped enter­tain­ment, pre­pared meals that can be deliv­ered to their apart­ment, house­keep­ing, main­te­nance, and access to a med­ical cen­ter and phar­ma­cy,” said Kather­ine St. Clair. She is the direc­tor of sales for Friend­ship Senior Options which oper­ates two of the most promi­nent senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the Chica­go area: Friend­ship Vil­lage of Schaum­burg and Green­Fields of Gene­va. We are offer­ing a vari­ety of options for pre­sent­ing our com­mu­ni­ties to prospec­tive res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies. It’s impor­tant to us that we accom­mo­date them in what­ev­er ways are most comfortable.”

Setting the Stage

Inter­est and sub­se­quent inquires often orig­i­nate on the senior liv­ing community’s web­site. Our web­sites are designed as win­dows into our com­mu­ni­ties, show­ing off our beau­ti­ful cam­pus­es and ameni­ties, as well as show­cas­ing our pro­grams and ser­vices,” said St. Clair. We are always work­ing at enhanc­ing our web­sites to pro­vide the most com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion about our com­mu­ni­ties.” The web­sites make it easy for indi­vid­u­als to do their pre­lim­i­nary ground­work research­ing the com­mu­ni­ties before ven­tur­ing out to vis­it in-per­son. In addi­tion to show­cas­ing the com­mu­ni­ties’ ser­vices, there are also videos of the cam­pus­es and com­mon areas and floor plans, some of which are interactive.

St. Clair added that the com­mu­ni­ties’ res­i­den­cy coun­selors are hap­py to talk with prospects and their fam­i­ly mem­bers at the start of their research to get a feel for their inter­ests, needs, and wish­es for their new home. They will use the infor­ma­tion to help opti­mize tours so that they are designed specif­i­cal­ly for the indi­vid­ual,” she said.

In-Per­son

With enhanced clean­ing, dis­in­fect­ing, and san­i­ti­za­tion, both Friend­ship Vil­lage and Green­Fields have been impres­sive­ly suc­cess­ful at keep­ing res­i­dents and staff safe dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. One of their safe­ty pro­to­cols requires every­one enter­ing the build­ing to be care­ful­ly screened before being admit­ted. Fur­ther­more, every­one is masked. Ear­li­er this autumn, we sent out a mail­er to prospects that includ­ed a cloth mask with the community’s logo. It assures guests that they can enter the build­ing with con­fi­dence,” St. Clair said. 

Prospec­tive res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies are gra­cious­ly wel­come to phys­i­cal­ly vis­it the com­mu­ni­ties, abid­ing by the sig­nif­i­cant safe­ty pro­to­cols. Res­i­den­cy coun­selors will have iden­ti­fied ahead of time, indi­vid­ual apart­ments with the space, rooms, and ameni­ties most suit­ed to the prospect’s request and interests.

Vir­tu­al Tours

Vir­tu­al tours, which are becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar in senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties, com­prise visu­al sim­u­la­tions through video, a series of images, or both. 

Green­Fields and Friend­ship Vil­lage both uti­lize the One­Day app. After the res­i­den­cy coun­selor has vis­it­ed with a prospec­tive res­i­dent on the phone and deter­mined the best ways to meet their needs, the One­Day app enables the easy cre­ation and deliv­ery of per­son­al­ized video tours from their iPad.

Vir­tu­al tours, which can be post­ed on the web­site, offer a visu­al overview of what the com­mu­ni­ty offers. These tours include footage of Friend­ship Village’s out­door areas and com­mon spaces such as the restau­rants and the aquat­ic and fit­ness cen­ters. They also pro­vide a sneak peek of some of the community’s apart­ments. Their inno­v­a­tive 3D walk­ing tour offers an over­head view of a fur­nished apart­ment, with the option to switch to a walk-through tour. Their inter­ac­tive vir­tu­al tours allow prospects to move fur­ni­ture through the apartment. 

Vir­tu­al Mar­ket­ing Events

Green­Fields host­ed a vir­tu­al open house mar­ket­ing event. Exec­u­tive direc­tor Tony Madl and St. Clair start­ed the pro­gram to intro­duce the ben­e­fits of liv­ing in a retire­ment com­mu­ni­ty. Guests then walked through’ sev­er­al apart­ments virtually.

Friend­ship Village’s pop­u­lar res­i­dents pan­els are vir­tu­al as well. Called Friend­ship in Focus, the vir­tu­al mar­ket­ing event fea­tures res­i­dents answer­ing var­i­ous ques­tions about senior liv­ing. A pop-up fea­ture on the web­site enables the prospect to chat with the pan­el dur­ing the event.

We are eager to help prospec­tive res­i­dents and their loved ones explore our superb senior liv­ing options in the way that they are most com­fort­able,” said St. Clair.

By 2050 up to 16 mil­lion could suf­fer from Alzheimer’s.

—Alzheimer's Association