Better together: Covenant Living navigates COVID with community and communication by Jana Decker by BS
Covenant Living Communities and Services is rooted in ministry. Our Illinois-based organization has served older adults as an outreach ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church since 1886. That year, our flagship community, Covenant Home of Chicago (known at the time as the Home of Mercy) was founded to provide care "to the sick, to orphaned children and to the frail elderly." Today, as a nonprofit provider of senior services and among the largest seniors housing providers in the United States, Covenant Living serves 5,400 residents at 17 retirement communities in 9 states. Our continuing care communities offer independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitation services. In March 2020, after more than 130 years of growth and change (and 100+ years since the Spanish Flu), our organization suddenly and unexpectedly found itself on the brink of a pandemic. We kicked into action immediately as COVID-19 shutdowns took place, knowing that the health and safety of our residents is the highest priority. Initially, that meant residents sheltering in place with no access to the many amenities that were part of normal life. Days turned into weeks, and like many other organizations, we realized this crisis situation was not a passing storm. The pandemic was not going away any time soon. It was clear our organization urgently needed to redirect focus to long-term solutions for supporting and engaging residents within the parameters of COVID.