In normal circumstances, a robust resident services program is critical for stable occupancy levels in rental communities. But 2020 proved that offerings provided by resident services may literally be lifesaving.
1. Weekly wellness calls. This is a great place to start, and they give residents a chance to hear a friendly voice and help alleviate feelings of isolation. These are geared more toward seniors and vulnerable residents, and the calls may provide an opportunity for early intervention for a resident in need, either through services or referrals.
2. Resident resource guide. This should be all-encompassing, including information on community resources, health and medical services, food assistance, social isolation tools, emergency services, and the latest COVID-19 information. Our guide is available online and is printed and provided to each resident.
3. Weekly newsletters. These offer another way for residents to stay connected with the community by focusing on lighter updates, such as resident or employee spotlights or birthday greetings.
4. Virtual video-based programming. Technologies like Zoom or Google Meet allow others to see familiar faces and warm smiles. Programming like poetry groups, bingo and exercise works great in this manner.
5. Smartphone-based programming. For some who find it easier using a smartphone, FaceTime and WhatsApp are other tools that provide engagement—whether through trivia games, coffee hours or tech support.
6. Phone conference calls. For residents without internet access, phone-based programming involving the use of a conference line allows for residents to engage with each other for social or educational programming.
7. ‘At-home-together’ programming. More of a hybrid in-person and virtual event, this kind of activity could include scavenger hunts, weekly food banks or a sidewalk chalk art contest. Community meals are great for this too, providing residents a “BBQ in a box” delivered to their door, for example.
8. Seasonal activities. Seasons and holidays provide a great opportunity to keep your residents engaged and is critical during times when they may be feeling more isolated than ever. Doing things like holding a pumpkin “Guess My Weight” contest or distributing construction paper, doilies and glue sticks to make personalized valentines are great activities.
9. Music series. In warmer months, consider live music being played outside for residents to open their windows to enjoy. And in the cooler months, offer virtual concerts that feature residents or staff taking turns playing instruments from the safety of their own homes via Zoom, or pre-recorded concerts available over Zoom or a community access television station.
10. Overall wellness. Holding health clinics will make it easier for residents to get flu shots or the COVID vaccine, which obviously goes a long way toward keeping them safe and healthy. And don’t forget the focus on mental health, by providing clinics that offer stress-reduction and coping strategies. Strong resident services programming benefits everyone, in good times and in bad. As we hope for better days ahead, let’s all work hard to make the more challenging days a bit easier to bear with a strong network of services for all residents.
Kate Swope is Director of Resident Services for the Peabody Companies. She can be reached at [email protected].