Photos Andy Calvert
With questions about the vaccine’s efficacy and effects circulating worldwide, the team at Renaissance Marquis had to face the challenge of educating the residents and staff about the vaccine and getting everyone excited to receive it. Through in-house marketing, they made sure that information about the vaccine was readily available.
“Obviously we can’t make anyone take the vaccine, but we were kind of advertising it in-house, kind of hyping it up and making it seem like the big deal that it is and really got people excited about it,” Sales and Marketing Director Austin Post says. “Any time that we had somebody come around asking questions about it, we had all of our staff just be very energetic about it. We didn’t ever push any of our personal beliefs or any personal opinions on anybody, but just let them know some of the benefits of it. There were a lot of one-on-one conversations that went into talking through the benefits, pros and cons, things like that to try to ease peoples’ concerns and give people confidence in taking the vaccine.”
A Big Hit
Making residents aware of the vaccine was just the beginning, though. To really emphasize the celebratory feelings that many people were having about getting vaccinated, the staff at Renaissance Marquis decided to turn vaccination days into celebrations.
“The first time, we did a snack bar, we had music going and we were just very energetic and made it seem like a fun, pleasurable experience. I know getting a shot is never something that somebody really wants to do, but the day of we just made it a super awesome experience for them. We had people taking pictures and playing games and things like that,” Post explains. “The second dose, we made kind of a theme out of it that was ‘Knock Out COVID.’ We set up a boxing ring. I actually was in a lot of pictures with residents; after they’d get their shot I’d be lying on the ground with boxing gloves on and they would be acting like they knocked me out. It was a big hit.”
Renaissance Marquis contracted their vaccines through CVS Pharmacy, which sent staff to administer the first dose in early January. Over 90 percent of the residents and 50 percent of the staff received their first dose in January, and the numbers rose with the second round of shots in early February.
Almost 100 percent of residents have had at least one dose now, as well as about 70 percent of staff members. A third round of vaccines will take place in March for those who received their first dose in February or those who haven’t gotten their first dose yet.
Hope for the Future
These vaccinations mark the “beginning of an end” according to Senior Executive Director Renita Carnes. “It gave everyone hope—for the future of being able to get out of this isolation, be able to see our families and our loved ones,” she says.
Dealing with the pandemic for the past year has presented a myriad of challenges at Renaissance Marquis, but they have done everything in their power to keep residents safe and healthy. When the pandemic began last year, the Georgia National Guard offered sanitization services to nursing homes and senior living facilities around the state. Renaissance Marquis took them up on this offer several times to ensure that their facilities stayed as clean as possible.
Renaissance Marquis also provided residents with free Juice Plus+, a dietary supplement fortified with vitamins. “They were very excited,” Carnes says. “That just gave them that extra boost of immunity to help them through this crisis. That and many other things that were done really contributes to why I believe our residents stayed safe.”
Outside the Box
While the staff had to rethink policies and procedures for safety reasons, they also did everything they could to keep the residents’ spirits up. This involved socially distant games, holiday celebrations, outdoor activities and more. Residents played bingo from their doorways, played croquet and cornhole at a distance on the lawn, and participated in weekly puzzles and games.
“When they got their menus for the week, they had puzzles and bingo and they were given numbers, so while in their rooms they were looking forward to seeing those menus so they could get their numbers and play their games because we had treats and rewards for the winners,” Carnes explains. “We thought outside the box. We didn’t forego any of our events, we just came up with different ways to do it to make it fun and still be safe.”
Despite all of the challenges, the staff at Renaissance Marquis continues to uphold their commitment to their residents. “We’re in the business of serving our elderly generation,” Carnes says. “When you’re in that business, you make a commitment to do whatever you can to serve them. Our residents are our family, so we wanted to make sure that we were doing everything possible to make sure that they were COVID-free.”