Community through Creation

Humans are social creatures. Our desire to build relationships, share experiences, and collaborate with one another are all inherent needs shared by our species. Our capacity for connection has currently been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Where once our communities were a place of gathering for social groups, book clubs, and entertainment, we now struggle to find a new normal. This “New Normal” has forced us to think of some “outside the box” communication methods to ensure our connection with humanity isn’t lost.

The good news is that new communities and meaningful connections can be found through creation and innovation. Through social media, and video many are creating community and crafting a true sense of belonging and connection to others.

At Sinceri Senior Living, our community teams have found that video has been an amazing resource and medium for our residents and their families. To take this to the next level, we wanted to create a sense of greater community and connection between our teams, residents, and families. We thought of telling our residents life stories through video and found inspiration for this through our Meaningful Moments program. From this idea, the “Be a Creator” YouTube challenge was born.

This video contest engaged our 59 communities across the country and truly built a strong sense of camaraderie for each video team; which consisted of a mix of residents, families, and team members. Each team was asked to select a video theme from two options, “4th of July” or “Father’s Day”. After choosing their theme, the teams set to work with their video concepts, storyboarding, casting, scripting, and recording their videos.

After much hard work, laughing, and dancing, we are pleased to present the winners of our “Be a Creator” YouTube Challenge. We hope that their videos bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart!

The following quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity:

Ortega Gardens Alzheimer’s Special Care Center – The Best Day

Interview with Wendy Ungaro, Community Resource Director of Ortega Gardens Alzheimer’s Special Care Center.

  • What inspired you in the creation of this video?

“We wanted to share all of the aspects of our community that we provide our residents and their families. Our beautiful grounds, community, and caring team members. After selecting our song, we reached out to a former resident’s family who owns antique cars to see if they would be interested in participating in the video with us. We shared the need with them and they were ecstatic about the opportunity to work with our team members and our residents. They appreciated being involved and having the opportunity to say thank you for the care we provided their loved one.”

  • How did residents react, and did they enjoy being involved in creating the video?

“Residents loved being involved! You can see there are a couple of spots where we are laughing. Many residents who are usually quite serious, started smiling and even laughing while we were filming.”

“The couple who reenacted their wedding are both residents here at Ortega Gardens. When we shared this video with their family, they cried tears of joy.”

“A bit of background on this scene: When we purchased the wedding dress for this scene, we weren’t totally sure about the size. On top of this, our bride does not usually wear dresses. When it arrived, one of our amazing programming assistants showed the dress to Shirley, and she began to cry because she thought it was, “so beautiful!” She was even willing to try it on, and it was a perfect fit!”

“There was so much joy from everyone during the wedding scene – everyone loves a wedding!”

  • What message did you want to convey?

“We decided to focus on Father’s Day for our video. This was to help convey to families, that even though we are apart right now, no one forgets the kind of fathers that they were. They do not forget what it’s like to have the best day ever with their kids.”

“Our team misses seeing our resident families too. Making this video, we were coming together to celebrate these families. There was an extra special sense of community and strength. That for a moment in time, it was just us.”

Edgemont Place Alzheimer’s Special Care Center – Dancing in the Streets

Interview with Victoria Kendall, Community Resource Director; and Rose Newman, Program Director. What inspired you in the creation of this video?

“We started by listening to songs that we felt would resonate with our residents and that were from their era. After hearing the music and reading the lyrics, we felt that Dancing in the Street was a perfect fit.”

  • How did residents react, and did they enjoy being involved in creating the video?

“Our residents were “game” to put this together. They thought this was a fun activity – and even funny to put together. As we were recording, we played the song so many times that later that night, everyone probably heard it in their dreams. As the song kept playing, residents who were already dancing, started finding others and encouraging them to dance with them.”

“In the middle of making the video, we thought to ask resident families to create clips and participate in the video with their family members. We were fortunate enough to have up to multiple families to record and submit their clips. Families were so happy to engage and be a part of this process.”

  • What message did you want to convey?

“During this hard time of COVID-19, even though we’re all stuck inside, we’re still laughing, singing, and dancing. We are still keeping active and staying engaged. This is something that everyone can relate to with the global pandemic.”

“The whole team – including residents – was really on board. In the big picture, this demonstrates that no matter how old you are, you are still young at heart. Our residents who played Abe Lincoln and the Statue of Liberty are usually pretty serious. But as you can see from the video, they played their parts enthusiastically and had a lot of fun!”

“Most of this was not rehearsed and the ad-lib response provided a truly authentic final video.”

Willow Springs Alzheimer’s Special Care Center – We’ll Always Be Together

  • What inspired you in the creation of this video?

“A resident family member had recently sent us the movie, “Grease” to share with the residents. Our resident’s reactions were so positive and they enjoyed reminiscing about the late 50s. Creating this video was our way of helping them remember what it was like to visit the drive-in and go to the soda fountain.”

  • How did residents react, and did they enjoy being involved in creating the video?

“Our residents enjoyed helping with the video. Some of our residents wanted to dance in the video and others wanted to help with set up – these residents used to be involved in the Elks Lodge. This experience allowed our residents to step back in time to the 50s to enjoy a Coca-Cola shake at the drive-in.”

  • What message did you want to convey?

“We needed to convey the connection between staff and residents. Our team is always so willing to go above and beyond to make a resident’s day. If this means dressing up and learning the choreography to Grease, we are so willing to do that.”

“It’s so important at Willow Springs that we are caring together and connected – from resident to staff to a family member. This all started with the kindness of a resident family member, so it’s amazing to see that connection of how we all truly care together.”

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