In this episode of Senior Living LIVE!, Melissa checks in with Arbor Terrace Middletown and chats with Executive Director Mica Giles about what life is like at the community now, as we continue to move forward out of the pandemic.

Mica discusses memorable moments over the last year, emotional reunions as in-person family visits return, and the continued COVID protocols that Middletown keeps in place to maintain the health and safety of everyone in the community.  


Video Transcript

- Hello everyone. And welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. I hope you are doing fantastic today. Well, we are traveling to one of our Arbor communities today as we check in with Arbor terrace of Middletown in New Jersey. Mica Giles, she is the Executive Director there and she joins me here today. Mica, how are you?

- Hi, Melissa. How are you? Thank you for having me. I'm doing very, very well.

- Excellent. And so we're going to check in with you. We're also going to check in to see how your residents are doing how the staff is doing, because I think it's safe to say that your community is probably a different place now than it was this time a year ago.

- Absolutely.

- Can you tell us what life was like at your community at the start of the pandemic and where we are right now?

- Yeah. So at the start of the pandemic, along with the rest of the world there was a lot of unknowns. So a lot of, you know, everybody was kind of on edge residents, families kind of worried about, you know, what's okay to do, what's not okay to do. Following state guidelines, following CDC guidelines, following Arbor standards Making sure that we're keeping everybody safe. So safety was like number one priority keeping everybody healthy. And that was our ultimate focus last year was just making sure that we survive through this versus now where things are opening back up, where we're, you know we're having real life again back in the community. You know, you're seeing residents hang out together, you're seeing residents in group activities and enjoying you know, what assisted living is meant to do. Which is live and they're living. So that's, it's night and day.

- Yeah. And, and I think we all know that when it comes to our, our communities our Senior Living communities that, you know there was some separation between them and their family members who weren't able to maybe able to do so window visits. How is that looking now with their families?

- So now, you know some people still choose not to come into the community. However, they do have the option of coming in to the community and they have the option of actually being in their loved ones rooms, hanging out even in the common space areas, you know with proper guidelines, proper PPE. So that's awesome because a lot of people didn't physically see their loved ones for, you know six plus months. So now that you know we're doing the in-person visits again a lot of people aren't taking advantage.

- What did those reunions been like for you to witness?

- Awesome and heartwarming, I get chills just thinking about it. I think people appreciate a lot more that person to person interaction. You know, we tend to live in a age where everybody's looking down at their cell phones all the time and now you see people actually having conversations with mom, having conversations with dad. So that's been pretty awesome.

- Yeah. So what are you and the residents and your staff looking forward to the most? as more and more people become vaccinated?

- You know, our community's doing very well. We're upwards of 90% vaccinated. And so we're excited because we get to enjoy the pre COVID freedoms. You know, things that we kind of took for granted in the beginning, you know, prior to COVID, now we're getting to enjoy again, like simple things like residents dining together, you know, going outside enjoying. So I have independent living, assisted living and memory care. So we're commingled, there was a long time where our assisted living and independent living residents were separated and now they're able to be together again. So just like, you know, the simple things we're looking forward to enjoying more time together, enjoying more entertainment on outside at this point as the weather warms up

- And congratulations on almost 90% if not little over that, that is absolutely fantastic. I love that number.

- Yes

- Excellent Mica. So when we think about some of the memories and maybe they're not all great for many of us when it comes to this past year during COVID but what are some of the memorable moments that have stuck out to you or that will be lasting for you?

- One of the most memorable moments was the parade that we had. So we had a car parade when people weren't able to come in and see their loved ones. The engagement team, you know, everybody we work together to actually schedule a corporate for the residents. And they all sat outside socially distance as their families drove by and waved by and had signs. And everyone was so happy even though they couldn't physically touch each other. It was just, just to see their loved ones and see them drive by and wrap around the community. It was so heartwarming and everybody it was the participation level was amazing. People came from all over to just come and make it a big day for the residents. And it was awesome.

- Yeah. That's fantastic. Now, when you think of something like that, that's that's something that is really it's thinking outside the box, but it is simple, right? You're bringing the people to others so that they can see them in the flesh. One thing that this pandemic has done is it has sort of advanced technology for a lot of our seniors. So what are some of the, the types of technology that have helped make this period of time bearable for your seniors?

- So one of the most notable ones that we utilize since the start of this pandemic is Eversound and our residents are able to, because of the social distancing, or because of the window visits, you know, sometimes it's hard to hear on the other end, what your loved one is saying. So Eversound allows the residents to have an experience where they can hear their loved ones. Like they're face-to-face, that was an amazing technology. We also, we have used zoom, we have done FaceTime, we have done, you know, the Amazon Echo video where, you know, a lot of the families that have decided to put it in their rooms and drop in and talk to mom, you know, and it's been really it's awesome to see that we can have connections without physically being there. So I think thank God for technology in his case. Yeah.

- Yeah. And one thing you hear about each and every community is special in its own way. And what COVID did is it sort of took away for some communities, the soul of what it was because for a lot of communities, the soul is it's the people. So if you have something that you feel people should know about your community that is now back and vibrant and alive again, what would it be?

- I think our residents are the best part of our community. I see friendships being made again, as our new residents move in, you know, I had a resident who last week said I have not had this much fun in six months and this was a new resident. So I was so happy to hear that they're coming from home and being quarantine. And now they're coming to a community where we do have all of these guidelines in place and we are sanitizing all the time, we are cleaning. So they feel safe to sit around each other and make friends. So what I would say about my community is that we're back in business and we're ready to help you live.

- I love that. And I would love to end on that, but I do want to I do sort of want to dive quickly into the sanitizing just because you're vaccinated, that doesn't end does it.

- It does not. It does not. You want to make sure that you're still following those same protocols that you're still, you know, wearing mask and social distancing in appropriate that you're still, we were still cleaning the community way more than we ever did prior to COVID. So that if something does happen. We don't want another outbreak, right? So we're making sure that our residents, you know safety is still number one priority. We want to have safety and we want to have joy and to have that joy continue we definitely keep those same guidelines and protocols in place.

- Yeah, absolutely. And it's, it's working, right.

- Yes.

- It's working

- Yes.

- You're doing from the residents.

- Yes, it is

- It's working. Mica, We thank you so much for taking the time to allow us to kind of do this check-in with, with your community. It's always great to hear that things are kind of on the upswing for everybody right now. And again, the 90% vaccination rate is phenomenal. So congratulations to you and your community and wishing you all the best as we continue to move forward out of this pandemic. Thank you

- Thank you, Melissa. Thank you so much.

- Well, if you enjoy this interview with Mica, head on over to for more of our video content all about Senior Living it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, We thank you for watching Senior Living Live. Have a great day everybody.

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