Key partnerships ensure continued safety and wellbeing of senior residents

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Embrace Living Communities takes great pride in living up to its mission and values to ensure active aging adults have an affordable, welcoming home to call their own. Over the years, they have provided innovative programs and services to residents, many through valuable partnerships with local organizations and Federal agencies.

During this year’s pandemic, Embrace Living has faced the challenge of ensuring the physical and mental well-being of residents, and partners have been critical in developing viable solutions that maintain the health within communities.

CDC and HUD protocols and processes to ensure safety

As reported across news outlets throughout the year, the global pandemic hit senior communities especially hard. Embrace Living was quick to follow CDC and HUD guidelines to ensure the health and safety of both the residents and staff. “The majority of our residents fully understood the impact of this virus and their vulnerability to it. We updated the residents and staff with the most current information as it was released,” says Greg Watson, VP of Operations at Embrace Living.

“The staff had to deal with a situation they had never experienced before,” says Ralph Gaines, Chief Executive Officer, who formerly served as the Chief Operations Officer for HUD. “They put new protocols in place quickly when the pandemic first hit and have remained diligent in all they do for the physical and mental well-being of our residents.”

In order to ensure the continued safety of residents and staff, Embrace Living needed to increase spending across services and equipment, such as more frequent cleaning and the purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Onsite grocery programs through partner food banks

COVID-19 also posed unprecedented barriers to food access and continues to disrupt day-to-day life for many. The senior population is especially vulnerable as they need to stay quarantined, but still require access to nutritious groceries to stay healthy.

Embrace Living recognized this challenge and created onsite food programs for their residents. “We partnered with local community organizations, such as churches, food pantries and food banks to offer our residents food choices without having to leave their homes,” says Jennifer Truppa, Director of Social Services and Quality Assurance. “Through their food access programs, Northern Illinois Food Bank and The Greater Chicago Food Depository provide wellness, strength, and above all, hope to residents during these challenging times.

These programs remain active, and Embrace Living’s social service coordinators work with their residents to sign up for the service. Food bags are delivered directly to their doors and include dairy, fruits, vegetables, frozen meats and various shelf items.

“This is imperative that we continue to look for innovative ways to assist our residents during trying times like these,” says Truppa. “We are reminded how affordable housing and supportive programs have the ability to improve the economic status and health and wellness of residents, transform neighborhoods and stabilize lives – all in alignment with our mission, vision and values.”

CVS and Walgreens to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations

To further ensure the health and wellbeing of residents in senior communities, the CDC recently recommended that those in HUD Section 202 residences will be a top tier of vaccine distribution. The HUD Section 202 program helps expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for the elderly, providing very low-income seniors with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that coordinates services needed for life enhancement while aging in place.

This vaccine distribution announcement includes health care workers as well as the staff and residents of long-term and residential care communities. “This is essential for the staff and residents in almost all of our communities,” says Watson. “We are partnering with CVS and Walgreens at the local level to come to our communities and distribute the vaccine to residents and staff as soon as it is available.”

“The health and safety of our residents and staff will always remain our top priority,” says Gaines. “The assistance and guidelines we continue to receive from both HUD and the CDC will help us keep our communities at the highest standards while ensuring the lowest infection rates we can during this ongoing pandemic.”

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