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Long before the necessity of virtual programming brought on by the pandemic, GreenFields of Geneva senior living community’s life enrichment department already had one foot out the door…literally and figuratively. The team launched their Exploring the World Our Way (eWow) initiative in 2018 after deciding to use the wonders of modern technology to plan virtual rendezvouses for their residents from the comfort of their own beautiful home. In the months after its introduction, the team coordinated virtual excursions to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve in Juneau, Alaska and more. It was a priority to offer the residents, many of whom are fascinated by both technology and travel, access to extraordinary lifelong learning experiences.
Virtual programming was already well established when COVD hit, and the residents were sheltering safely in place within their apartments. With great dedication and experience, the life enrichment team continued to offer entertainment, fitness programs, games, and other programming through the in-house television station.
Because residents and staff at GreenFields were among the first residents in Illinois to have access to complete COVID vaccinations, they were able to safely return to in-person programming and outings earlier in the year. “We’ve had a lot of in-person entertainment and programming on-site and have also returned to our in-person outings such as shopping and lunches,” said Karen Tomko, community engagement manager. “What we’ve found is that for some purposes, the eWOW opportunity for special visits and adventures still has a great deal of appeal. Last month, we had a virtual face-to-face interaction with a Holocaust survivor. Earlier this week, we ‘visited’ the Cleveland Museum of Art Museum, reputed to be haunted, just in time for Halloween. The residents are enjoying these opportunities.”
The fact that the life enrichment staff had started perfecting virtual visits well ahead of the actual need put GreenFields in the perfect position to have comprehensive programming, both in-person and via technology. “We’re proud to be able to offer what could be considered hybrid programming to meet our residents’ unique interests and hobbies,” said Tomko.