A fifth anniversary should be a happy time spent with friends and family, gathered together to celebrate the event. But for Wade Vest, executive director at Sagewood at Daybreak, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans in mind. 

“It’s been tough,” said Vest. “When your focus is on family, these circumstances create a unique challenge.” As a community that routinely welcomes family members and friends to join their loved ones for meals or activities, the pandemic has been hard on everyone. “We consider our residents, associates, friends, and family all part of the Sagewood family. It’s been difficult, but we’ve worked really hard to provide a great quality of life for our residents despite these challenging times,” said Vest.  

As the alarming news of COVID-19 continued to unfold, Vest and the community’s quick response had a profound impact on the health, safety, and security of Sagewood’s residents.

“We met as a team to plan a strategy for implementing guidelines. Among other things, we discussed monitoring temperatures, regularly tracking visible symptoms of the virus, screening essential workers who visited the community, shutting down visits, group activities, and programs to provide the safest conditions possible for staff and residents,” said Vest. 

But with so much emphasis placed on the physical safety of residents and staff, what do you do when one’s emotional well-being is at stake? This is when a caring community’s creative efforts provide the best care and support possible for residents. “We’ve had to think outside the box to keep residents emotionally safe,” said Vest. And he couldn’t be more proud of the work they’ve done. 

“Our servers, who are typically recent high school graduates or college students and whose world has turned upside down, are absolutely amazing,” raved Vest. “As opposed to being negative, they’ve taken this as a call to serve our residents.”

Photo courtesy Sagewood at Daybreak

Since meals are now delivered door-to-door, servers often draw pictures on the disposable food containers or write kind messages reminding residents that they are loved and missed. Ice cream is delivered door-to-door—accompanied by ice cream truck music—along with crossword puzzles and brain games. Associates from the Wellness Team host a resident spotlight every day, and they’ve recorded daily exercise routines so residents can continue engaging in physical exercise. 

Don’t forget live courtyard concerts every Friday where residents listen to live performances from their balconies. And recently, residents embarked on a relaxing trip around Daybreak Lake in hired bike taxis. 

“We understand the importance of health concerns, and we take those guidelines very seriously. But at the same time, we see emotional well-being as a focus,” explained Vest. “We all need something to look forward to every day, whether it’s a meal delivered with a fun message or an ice cream treat. We focus on that personal connection.”

As Sagewood cautiously moves toward a new normal, Wade admits that everyone now sees things from a new perspective. And some of the procedures enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain. Notably, a heightened awareness of the cleaning protocol.

Vest explained that they took a whole-team approach to clean up the community, ensuring high touch surface areas, elevators, furniture, etc. are cleaned daily. Other procedures include maintaining the single point of entry, instituting a more focused sign-in process, requiring name badges, and taking measures to enhance the overall level of security. 

What’s next for Sagewood at Daybreak? Vest and his team are approaching moving forward as a marathon rather than a sprint. But the most meaningful change is the relationship he and his staff have developed with residents and each other.

“Our focus has always been on our residents’ physical safety and emotional well-being. But we’ve developed the strongest relationships with the team and residents now more than ever before,” he said. “We’ve loved the contact we have daily, and we intend to continue focusing on those close relationships.”