Weathering the storms: Holiday Retirement’s prep plan keeps residents safe
Holiday Retirement communities around the country plan extensively to ensure residents are always safe and happy, even in the face of extreme weather. Recent weeks have seen Holiday Retirement’s hurricane planning tested — aggressively and repeatedly.
Communities in Texas, Florida and throughout the Southeast were directly impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Holiday Retirement’s home office mobilized resources to provide support to communities, residents and families.
That response and the speed with which communities were able to prepare and recover speaks to what Mark Prince, senior vice president of operations, said about the strength of the Holiday Retirement network and its dedication to preparedness and communication.
“The safety and wellbeing of our residents, staff and their families are always our top priority. That’s why proactive steps are a crucial element in our emergency preparedness plans,” Prince said. “Throughout these storms, we directed all of our resources toward preparations, and we’re extremely proud of the dedication our team showed in securing our communities where possible and evacuating them where necessary, all with minimal disruption to our residents and their families.”
Andrew Crowel, district vice president of operations in Texas, agreed, “Protocols, guidelines, you name it, they’re already established, but when you get into a situation of this gravity, there are a lot of things a manual doesn’t cover. And people play to a level that completely surprises you.”
“I was floored at the dedication and service I saw,” Crowel added.
One example of service? Anticipating that residents would feel some anxiety about the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, and possibly stay up later than they normally would, one manager decided to host a Midnight Party to pass the time and give everyone something fun to focus on all while creating laughter in the building.
The notion of weathering the storm in style also carried on through Irma. A group of about 75 residents and family members at Holiday Retirement’s The Tremont in Oviedo, Florida, waited out Irma in high spirits. The group was well protected and well stocked with supplies, entertainment and a backup generator. Even during a period of power outage, they enjoyed hot meals and good times, passing the time with everything from sing-a-longs and movies to indoor mini-golf and card games. When all was said and done, The Tremont residents and team members weren’t sad to see Irma go but were glad of the preparations that lessened the impact of the storm and the fun they found in the experience.
The efforts on both fronts proved to be a tremendous success. In the days following the storms, Holiday received “letter after letter” from residents, Crowel said. All of the letters were filled with gratitude, both for the gracious staff — many of whom stayed in the communities and went to great lengths to comfort concerned residents — and for the level of security they felt. Barbara in Texas summed it up: “We were so concerned what would happen to us. Charlotte and her staff stayed with us for the entire time…I was grateful to them all and happy I was here.”
Maria recently helped her husband move into Holiday Retirement's Forest Oaks of Spring Hill and was invited to stay at the Spring Hill senior living community for the duration of Hurricane Irma. Maria was thrilled that her husband wouldn’t have to make another move so quickly, but that was nothing to what she felt after the storm. She wrote to thank the entire community management team for the care she, her husband and some of her dear friends received throughout the storm and resulting power outages.
“I am so glad I took you up on the offer to stay. It just confirmed what I knew all along: that this was the best place for my precious husband.” Maria also took some time in her heartfelt note to elaborate on the response to the power outage. “It was probably no more than a minute and the generators kicked on and lights came on in the hallways. I immediately left the room to check out what was going on. The staff came from every direction making sure everything was working. … It was truly a professional job done by all. … The next morning, I couldn’t believe it, they served us a hot breakfast of eggs and sausage, and, believe it or not, hot coffee!”
Even those Holiday Retirement communities that had to evacuate found a plan and a support network were already in place for them.
Residents at Holiday Retirement’s Regency Residence in Port Richey, Florida, were moved to Holiday Retirement’s Azalea Park, in Lakeland, where residents and staff alike made the newcomers feel more than welcome with hot food, comfy beds and warm company. As Betty wrote to her new Azalea Park friends, “No words can express our appreciation of all the work this has entailed. You truly are ‘a shelter in the time of storm.’”
Life at Holiday Retirement is built on security and comfort, providing a sense of purpose and belonging to our residents. We’d love to have you join us at one of our communities. We’re there for our residents, in good times and bad.