While the holidays at McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care in Ladue will look a little different this year, the holiday cheer is stronger than ever. Staff members and residents alike are putting the enthusiasm and creativity of the community to work, assuring everyone stays connected with loved ones and there are ample ways to celebrate throughout the season.
Just this past Thanksgiving, for example, the beautiful courtyard was the site of a socially distant dessert celebration with loved ones; “Gather ‘Round The Pie”, a new offering created to delight the entire community and help residents stay connected to family. Thanks to a unique setup, family members could visit residents at windows to enjoy traditional Thanksgiving pies together. “We are always looking for innovative ideas like this to keep families and loved ones connected,” Executive Director Laura Ritthamel recently explained to Town & Country magazine.
To say McKnight Place staff are embracing the opportunity would be an understatement. “We added some new ways to celebrate such as a door decor contest, tree trimming, a special outdoor light display, cookie decorating and more. We consider these to be festive new holiday traditions in the making.”
The door decorating contest, in particular, has been “a real hit with our residents,” Ritthamel says. Residents each teamed up with a staff member to come up with a unique, personalized door design that celebrates who they are. Among the highlights was the St. Louis Blues-themed hockey décor one Blues superfan proudly displayed.
That said, not everything will be new. In fact, wherever possible, familiar favorites have been adapted for current heath conditions. “We are keeping many of our beloved holiday events on the schedule but modifying them to ensure everyone’s safety,” Ritthamel says. “Cookies with Santa is always a resident favorite, along with hot chocolate and fireside chats.”
Just as in years past, McKnight Place’s gorgeous grounds have “put on their holiday best” to celebrate the season. Bright, festive décor can be found inside and out, from the holiday-themed trees in the community lounges, to the vibrant, colorful outdoor display, featuring figurines, inflatables and thousands of lights. It’s quite a sight to behold.
Much as in years past, residents can share this bright, festive McKnight Place atmosphere with loved ones, but with a modern twist. Thanks to technology (and/or a little creativity), residents can arrange socially distanced window and patio visits, talk over FaceTime or Zoom, communicate via Happy Grams (electronic messages and photos sent by family and friends) and more; whatever it takes to feel close and celebrate while staying safe.
“All of these are unique ways to spruce up our usual traditions in a challenging year,” Ritthamel says. “My favorite part of the holidays is when we are decorating and residents stop by to watch, share their input or pitch in and help. Even though much of it could be considered just a normal part of the season, it still is fun to see our residents participating and reminiscing about things they have enjoyed doing for many years.”
The goal of these activities, whether new or familiar, remains consistent: to help McKnight Place residents enjoy a safe, connected, celebratory holiday season. “We are proud to create holiday traditions that bring them so much joy.” Rittenhamel says.