Photo: Pictured above, Regency Pointe residents and staff members wave to family, friends and community members in cars during the drive-through parade on April 10.
By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer/Photographer
While social distancing serves an essential purpose to protect the health of individuals and others, limited social interaction proves more difficult than it seems. A lack of face-to-face communication often creates stressful or lonely situations for senior living community residents and the elderly, who must isolate themselves from family members and friends.
On April 10, Regency Pointe by Discovery Senior Living in Rainbow City planned a special event with its resident seniors in mind, offering a dose of welcomed encouragement and a reminder that people still care.
Regency Pointe Senior Lifestyle Counselor Kelsi Morgan organized a drive-through parade where residents sat outside or watched from their apartment windows. The parade allowed residents to maintain social distancing protocol while experiencing loving interaction from family, community members and friends.
The parade idea was developed in partnership with Regency Pointe’s management company, Discovery Senior Living, whose regional directors noticed several drive-through parades on Facebook. With the understanding of how precious social interaction becomes to seniors, Morgan collaborated with regional leaders, Regency Pointe Team Members and residents’ family members to spread happiness without compromising residents’ health.
Vehicles ordained with bright balloons, posters wishing residents “Happy Easter!” and signs bearing loving messages brought smiles to residents’ faces and tears to onlooking team members’ eyes.
Volunteers in an Easter Bunny and T-Rex costume joined the procession, adding lighthearted humor to the joyful event. Resident Frances Samuels shined with delight when her family parked and let her see photographs of her great-granddaughter that were taped to the car. Shouts of “We love you!” and “We miss you!” resounded from each vehicle, demonstrating to the residents that they remain dear in so many hearts. Of the 40 vehicles that participated in the parade, only half were direct family members. Compassionate locals who felt a pull towards kindness comprised the rest.
“I really hope that the residents feel like they are loved,” said Morgan. “Even though we’re in quarantine and they can’t have contact with their family members right now, [their families] are still here for them, and so are we. We still love and care about them. They are not alone. Even though they feel like it right now, [the residents] still have that love.”
Though Regency Pointe implemented precautionary measures to ensure its residents remain physically healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive-through parade displayed how the community cares for its residents’ emotional well-being. Consisting of retirement apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living and the community’s exclusive SHINE Memory Care program, Regency Pointe offers a variety of lifestyle options for all seniors wishing to maintain their quality of life without worry.
Regency Pointe also features six exclusive lifestyle programs at its Grande Clubhouse, where residents enjoy activities like movie-watching, parties, barbecues and dances.
The clubhouse also features a salon, library, game rooms and fitness center with a pool and spa. But apart from the entertainment options at Regency Pointe, dedicated team members cater to the details that make everyday life at the community welcoming and home-like.
Growing up with a mother who worked at Regency Pointe and friends who served as team members, Morgan always treasured Regency Pointe as a special, safe place in her heart. After working at Regency Pointe in high school, Morgan pursued careers in hospice and real estate following graduation. About a year ago, Morgan discovered an available position at Regency Pointe and felt elated, content and excited to return to the community she calls home.
“Getting to know people, their histories, different lifestyles and how they’ve grown up is my favorite part about working at Regency Pointe,” said Morgan. “We do something called the Discovery Process, so when you call into our community and I first talk to you, I really discover everything about you. We really get to know our residents when they [first] come in. It’s really important to me to know [and understand] people and the different walks of life.”
It is people who create the peaceful environment at Regency Pointe and it is people who extend generous hands to show compassion and care when needed most. The drive-through parade represents more than a one-time event, but a community that recognizes how one act of kindness can impact a person and how powerful a community united in encouragement can become.
Despite the current world circumstances and all that can rise up as distractions, the parade reminded a community that goodwill is always worth remembering, so that others understand they are not forgotten.
“People think, ‘I don’t want to go a so-called ‘nursing home,’” said Morgan. “But [Regency Pointe] is a community within a community. We’re a big family here. And if seniors are at home and don’t feel comfortable, [Regency Pointe] is a great place to be.”