Residents, families reunited at assisted living facility

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Parade on wheels at Franke Tobey Jones brings tears of joy after weeks of separation

By Matt Nagle

matt@tacomaweekly.com

Friday, April 17, was not just a beautiful day where the weather was concerned. That afternoon, a joyful parade flowed through the Franke Tobey Jones assisted living facility to visually connect resident with their loved ones after weeks of having to adhere to a no-visitors policy due to the coronavirus.

“Family members have not been able to see their loved ones for four weeks now except through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and other meet-up platforms,” said Michelle Olafson, Franke Tobey Jones director of admissions and resident relations. “This was such a wonderful opportunity for our residents and family members to see, in person, their loved ones.”

Initially, about 30 cars were expected to participate, but that turned out to be a seriously conservative estimate. On parade day, they were lined up as far as the eye could see across the 20 acres of Franke Tobey Jones property. All along the sidewalks, the residents were in place and ready – all of them six feet apart – and others came out on their balconies to enjoy the auspicious event.

Daffodil Princess Catalina from Chief Leschi School was one of a dozen princesses who made the parade extra special. Credit: Christine Hall

“I was absolutely floored,” said Christine Hall, senior director of marketing and public relations at Franke Tobey Jones. “We didn’t know how many people would show up, but we had over 100 cars, motorcycles, bicycles, a tandem bicycle,” and they were all decorated with streamers, signs and the like, horns honking and everyone waving and cheering. 

Daffodil Princesses, 12 in all, were a big hit and their participation thoroughly appreciated by everyone. This year, the princesses haven’t been able to participate in any of the parades or public appearances that they normally enjoy, so the Franke Tobey Jones parade was a blessing to them as well.

Parade participants were encouraged to decorate their cars for the festive parade. Credit: Christine Hall

“One of our team members emailed me today, and I love this quote,” Hall said: “‘If you want to know what love looks like, you should have been at the parade.’” 

Tears of joy and gratitude were seen on practically every face. “Everybody was in tears to see how great the residents looked,” Hall said. “Their loved ones were all outside with noise makers and hats and everyone was so happy. We wanted the family members to get eyes on their loved ones so they could see for themselves that everybody is okay. It was just amazing.”

Life for the residents has changed pretty dramatically in a short period of time ever since Gov. Inslee’s stay at home order was given. Just about everything that the residents enjoy the most – the dining hall, fitness room/wellness center, bistro café, beauty shops, Senior University and the usually packed activity calendar – all of it has been put on hold for the time being. However, the caring staff has been on top of things when it comes to doting on the residents that they love so much.

With all usual activities now on hold at Franke Tobey Jones, the parade meant even more to the seniors. Credit: Christine Hall

One innovative strategy was to establish a personal concierge program with about 10 Franke Tobey Jones staff members serving as liaisons for residents to receive groceries, cards, homemade goodies and other welcome gifts from their families. When a resident wants to go for a walk but doesn’t want to go alone, a staff member will walk with them. A new tab has been added to the website for exercise, entertainment and educational videos, puzzle books and magazines are being handed out with meals, and Hallway Happy Hour brings snacks and beverages to everyone’s front door.

“The other day I set up a Zoom happy hour for one of our residents and they had eight family members from all over the world on it, all drinking their wine together, so that was pretty cool,” Hall said. 

“During this whole COVID event, people are scared and we’re doing everything we can to not have it here and we’re all still healthy and well. The families are very excited about the personal concierge program because they know that their loved one here is getting everything they need. We’re all still well and healthy and plan to keep it that way.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. What a wonderful blessing to all. Kudos to Christine Hall, for a creative solution in uncertain times. The number of participants is a testimony to the good that comes shining through when times get tough.
    Christine, Michelle, and all the staff, the participants and families, God bless you all.

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