Together, we experienced and learned so much, from physical distancing and mask-wearing to limiting our social contact with friends and family to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19. Despite the unprecedented challenges, it was still an incredible year for us here at PARC Retirement Living. We continued to innovate and deliver the vibrant lifestyle our residents have come to love – all while protecting them from COVID-19. To date, we have remained completely COVID-free in all of our communities. Thanks to our efforts, we were also able to stave off social isolation – a genuine risk for seniors during a pandemic of this nature – thanks to our tight-knit communities, which maintained full calendars of activities, classes, dining events and more with health and safety protocols in place. Read on to learn more about our proudest achievements from 2020.
Oceana PARC became a White Rock community fixture. We started the year with our newest residence, Oceana PARC, in full swing after opening late 2019. We were so honoured and excited to become an active part of the White Rock community. Oceana PARC is home to the first-ever PARC Fit & Wellness Centre designed for both Oceana PARC residents and non-residents of White Rock. This bright and modern space offers state-of-the-art senior oriented cardio and weight equipment, along with group classes targeted to aging adults with classes like PARC Strength, PARC Circuit, Gentle & Chair Yoga, PARC Grey Matters and more.
PARC began planning early for a potential pandemic. By February, we were all aware that COVID-19 was becoming an issue globally. PARC began planning ahead, in case the pandemic became a significant threat to our residents or our business. For instance, realizing we might need to adapt how we interact with prospects, we began preparing extra safety precautions, and also filming virtual tours of our suites. Thanks to this forethought and extra planning, we were able to transition seamlessly when government pandemic guidelines were implemented. We didn’t require any lockdown measures and residents remained free to come and go.
We adapted seamlessly and introduced a full range of COVID-19 protocols protect residents. In, March BC Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry announced restrictions geared toward halting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. PARC adapted quickly to follow all guidelines, and announced its own health-and-safety measures, quickly launching a series of online resources to support seniors during this difficult time; for instance, tips on grocery shopping during the pandemic, coping with mental health issues, getting the hang of social media and video-calling, and much more. By April, we had even more resources online, along with detailed public information on how we were keeping residents and employees safe via protocols such as increased sanitization, physical distancing and mask requirements, restricting entrance to essential visitors only, plexiglass dividers, halting employee crossover between residences and more.
We introduced the PARC Family Meetup Centres. Realizing we’d need to find a way for residents to safely visit friends and loved ones to prevent social isolation, PARC created the PARC Family Meetup Centres. These pod-like portables are self-contained, with plexiglass dividers inside, an air filtration system and separate entrances for residents and their visitors. By May, news of our innovation had hit the local media, and we got some great coverage on CBC, CTV and more.
We featured in-house farmer’s style markets so residents could shop close to home. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents had missed going shopping, so we launched PARC Markets at all PARC locations. These lively farmer’s market-style events gave residents a chance to shop for fresh local produce and essential items without leaving the premises. Rather than going out to crowded stores and increasing their risk of exposure to COVID-19, they could take a quick elevator ride downstairs to a fun, safe, and easy shopping experience.
We released reopening protocols and our PARC Safe services list. Even with the first wave of COVID-19 easing, we wanted to ensure our residents felt confident and safe when venturing out in the world. So, we created our PARC Safer Choice list of services, recommending vetted options for personal services such as haircuts, medical services, food retailers and social connection groups.
We launched our Virtual Speaker Series. This inaugural five-week series of video sessions featured leading local Clinical Counsellors for residents and other seniors to learn new skills for coping with the mental challenges of the pandemic. We also created written Q&A-style interviews with each of our experts, to delve into their topics even more deeply:
- Becoming Stronger and More Resilient
- Extending the Light During COVID-19
- Rerouting Anxiety During COVID-19 and Beyond
- Lifting Relationship Distress During COVID-19
- Making Friends with Anger
We resumed in-person suite tours with safety protocols in place. Starting in September, we decided to restart in-person tours of suites, with protocols in place to protect our visitors, residents and employees. These include; limited visitor numbers, physical distancing, extra sanitization, signed health declarations and separate visitor entrances and elevators.
We launched our COVID-Safe PARC Family Eatery. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting visitations at retirement communities, we put our heads together yet again and came up with an innovative new way to keep our residents socially engaged and connected, all while maintaining our COVID-free environment: the PARC Family Eatery. Tucked into a warm and inviting space in the Westerleigh PARC building, the eatery is a new a space where North Shore residents and their families can connect while sharing a chef-prepared meal together. The Eatery offers fresh, seasonal fare prepared and served by the Westerleigh Culinary Team, in sync with COVID-19 safety and health guidelines. The bright and modern dining room is purpose-designed to allow for safety and physical distancing, with seven tables, and separate entrances for residents and their visiting families. The Eatery is open five days per week with two dinner seatings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. It offers a rotating three-course menu, and it is fully licensed, so that diners can enjoy wine or a cocktail with their meal.
Oceana PARC won North America’s top senior-living architecture and design award.
Our newest residence won first prize in the Independent Living residence category in this year’s Senior Housing News Architecture & Design Awards. Oceana PARC beat out 15 other nominees from across North America to win this incredible distinction! A team of architects and interior designers specializing in senior living judged the entries on design, aesthetics, community integration, amenities, lifestyle and wellness. Our goal for Oceana PARC, from the beginning, was to create a community that elevates the resident experience to new levels of innovation and comfort, reflecting a profound understanding aging adults’ needs. We’re so honoured that our efforts were recognized with this prestigious award.
So, how was your 2020? Despite all the challenges, we hope you found some peace, joy and connection with those you love. Our best wishes for the holidays, and a Happy New Year!