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5 Ways the Lifestyle Department at Vi at Aventura is Keeping the Community Spirit Thriving During the Pandemic

The Lifestyle Department at Vi at Aventura has always sought to help residents connect with each other and to discover new passions and hobbies in retirement. However, just like the rest of the world, we have had to adapt to a new normal as stay-at-home orders continue to shift across the country. As many residents choose to spend more time in their apartments, our Lifestyle Department, with the help of staff members across all departments, jumped into action to find creative ways to bring the sense of community and connection to the residents.

“Our team meets every day and our daily huddle is open to every department. There is such strong team spirit here because everyone wants to contribute,” shared Lifestyle Director Michael Thomas.

Below, discover just a few of the ways that staff members keep residents engaged and connected while keeping them safely apart:

1. Dining in and al fresco.

On the culinary side, our teams have shifted seamlessly from dine-in to delivery, even adding opportunities to surprise and delight with birthdays, holidays and just-because days observed with personalized treats, notes and themed meals delivered directly to front doors.

A couple dines al fresco while a masked server pours wine.

The team also places weekly grocery orders for residents to keep them stocked with essential staples and anything they might need should they wish to cook at home.

And residents are also now enjoying meeting their neighbors outside for limited, appropriately spaced happy hours, lunches or dinners.

2. Staying fit and having fun.

Our team works together to bring the same fitness and wellness programs offered in the gym to our residents directly via the community TV channel. Yoga, meditation and functional fitness classes are staggered throughout the day to ensure residents can partake as their schedules allow. And residents are encouraged to get outside and enjoy the outdoor spaces within the community as much as possible. 

3. Going techie

Staff and tech savvy residents work together to get the less technologically inclined comfortable with online communication tools like Zoom and FaceTime® Voice and Video Calling. Staff work diligently to equip personal devices and community tablets with the applications and troubleshoot any issues as they come up. Residents are able to reconnect quickly and regularly with friends and family across the country on their tablets and phones.

A Vi resident does yoga with a virtual instructor.

And Lifestyle Directors across all 10 Vi communities pooled their collective research and resources to bring a new selection of virtual entertainment to residents every day, including museum tours, online classes, movies and more within an app that all residents can access.

“It is a big blessing to team up with other Lifestyle Directors working for the same purposes you are,” said Tamara Sawicz, Lifestyle Director at Vi at Lakeside Village (Lantana, Fla.).

4. Encouraging connections.

With residents set up with user-friendly voice and video calling apps, existing groups and clubs were able to resume meetings, from book clubs to choir practices. Residents also host online luncheons, happy hours and dinner parties.

And the Lifestyle Department facilitated the return of a little friendly competition and camaraderie by equipping residents with access and instructions to virtual group Bridge games. Residents can set up games against fellow Vi residents from the comfort of home.

5. Getting creative.

And as for entertainment, staff members from every department pulled out all the stops.

In addition to curating and delivering content like movies and lectures through “Stir Crazy,” part of a mobile app provided to all Vi residents, staff conceptualized and recorded their own videos including personalized fitness tips from Vi at Aventura’s Wellness Coordinator Kemuel Valdes.

Even the residents have been getting in on the fun, offering to share their own talents, hobbies and expertise with their neighbors, from cooking demos to standup comedy routines. Resident Susan Shovers shares her passion for cooking with her neighbors through her show “Cooking with Bubbe” and Peter and Veronica Fuchs host “Stump the Maestro,” where fellow residents join the couple on Facebook Live for music and some laughs.

And the creativity and resourcefulness of staff members at the community show no signs of stopping. Every day, they continue to find new ways to connect with residents and to connect residents with each other. And residents appreciate the hard work.

“Our residents have been such a source of positivity and have told us how much they appreciate everything we’ve been doing during this time,” said Michael.

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