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Published: August 5, 2020

woman at computerA year ago, none of us could have imagined that a global pandemic would drastically change our daily lives.

Today, try to envision a pandemic without Zoom, telemedicine, streaming channels and other technology. For most Americans, that’s nearly impossible to imagine.

“Since March, millions of Americans have been working, learning, organizing and protesting, entertaining themselves and seeing friends and family online. Internet access is the ultimate essential service,” says Marketplace.

That’s also true in life plan communities, which have had to drastically restructure personal and community life because their older adult residents are most at risk of getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, Kendal at Oberlin strived for state-of-the-art technology but since COVID, the retirement community has really ramped up its offerings to keep residents safe, informed and engaged.

Here are 7 examples of how Kendal has plugged in.

Expanded Television Programming

For years residents have relied on Kendal’s cable TV channel WKAO for daily menus, activities and other news. Now residents have two more channels to watch – KOTV and WSCC. Programming, which is not continuous, includes recorded exercise classes, movies and Zoom meetings.

For instance, since the Kendal at Oberlin Residents Association cannot hold its well-attended monthly meetings in person, the 15 KORA council members meet on Zoom and the Zoom meeting is broadcast live on Kendal cable. During the meeting residents can email questions to Sally Nelson-Olin, wife of board president Gary Olin, who then presents the questions to the council.

Events of 10 or fewer people have returned to Heiser Auditorium, which had been in the process of updating its audio-visual equipment including TV cameras. In July six residents read one-act plays, attended by four residents who have recently moved to Kendal, and the event was recorded and shown on cable TV. In mid-August, a handful of musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra will give a concert in Heiser Auditorium, which will be broadcast to residents.

The third channel, WSCC, focuses on programming for Stephens Care Center residents, but all residents can tune into any of the three channels.

Let's Meet on Zoom

Like many places, “Zoom has saved our lives,” says Bruce Richards, co-chair of the newly formed Joint Committee on Technology (more on that down below).

Instead of gathering in Heiser Auditorium, residents turn to Zoom for CEO Barbara Thomas’ “Exchange” meetings, Song Swap, dementia-friendly discussions and special events, such as Judy Sorum Brown’s webinar on “Personal Strategies for Navigating Changing Times.” Many Zoom events are also shown on cable TV.

“I’m on the AV committee and the calendar is almost back to what it was pre-COVID,” says Joyce Benjamin, resident engagement coordinator and member of the New Normal Committee.

Accushield Automates Screening

Staff members and vendors must have their temperature taken when entering the main building, and up until now that’s been done manually by another staff member. Now an Accushield kiosk is set up for self check-in, including symptom screening and temperature readings.

Kendal Offers Online Enrichment and Engagement

As we all know, there is LOTS of new content on the Internet to help us get through the pandemic, from entertainment to health. The Kendal Corporation has put together an ever growing Life Enrichment and Engagement page of resources for residents at Kendal at Oberlin and its other affiliates. Content covers six areas: Wellness; Connections; Intellectual; Cultural; Activities & Entertainment; and Potpourri. This material is open to everyone. 

New Technology Committee  

The newly formed Joint Committee on Technology is comprised of residents and staff, and Judy Miller, Director of IT, is the other co-chair. Judy says they plan to meet in August and future topics include educational programming for residents, evaluation of new software, improved communication and coordination of services.

Technology Support and Training

For years Kendal’s techie residents have been helping other residents with tech issues and problems, but these days the KORATech volunteers can only do limited hands-on help. Same with Judy and Don Mulica, computer support specialist. Technology training will also be addressed by the new committee because the need will only continue to grow.

“You can’t call Kendal’s hair salon for appointments, you have to use “SignUpGenius,” Judy says.

Tours Go Virtual

Since in-person tours and overnight stays for prospective residents are suspended, the Admissions and Marketing department has turned to “Walk and Talk” virtual tours and Zoom coffee hours with newer residents. Elisabeth Christman, our Assistant Director of sales, would be happy to arrange a virtual tour for you. 

Plan a Virtual Visit to Kendal at Oberlin

Elisabeth Christman - Kendal at OberlinLooking for a vibrant retirement living community that fits your future living plans? Schedule a "Walk and Talk" virtual tour with Elisabeth today. 

Schedule a Tour



Molly-KIn the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.