When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Seattle-based nonprofit life plan community Bayview — like many other seniors housing operators — quickly went from vibrant hustling and bustling dining rooms to delivering meals to residents’ apartments. But with no clear end to the pandemic in sight, Bayview’s CEO, Nancy Weinbeck, challenged the community — both residents and staff — to find innovative and creative ways to bring back some social elements of the dining experience while also keeping residents safe.
A food court concept was the ideal solution, said Dan Galvin, Bayview’s director of culinary services. Armed with a restaurant and hospitality background, Galvin teamed up with staff and residents to bring the idea to fruition. Bill Jordan, a Bayview resident who had a long career as an architect, developed floor plans that allowed for proper spacing. Michael Mayer, another resident and an Emmy-nominated set designer, created the look and feel of the food court. In addition to completing the food court with cost-saving solutions, resident and staff members participation boosted morale and excitement throughout the community, Galvin said.
Bayview’s Terrace Garden Food Court includes three socially distanced ordering stations with glass partitions, a socially distanced waiting area, the addition of a marketplace offering “grab-and-go” items, crowd theater ropes, floor decals, large signage for easy navigation, separate aisles for employees and residents, socially distanced seating areas, and sanitation stations.
Although the community has paused the food court’s launch due to an increase in new COVID-19 cases within the county, the firm hopes other senior living communities may find inspiration in its efforts, Weinbeck said.
“One of the bright qualities of senior living communities across Washington and really across the nation is the way we are learning from each other,” she said. “The pandemic is propelling innovation for us. We hope our story shines a much-needed positive light on the way senior communities are disrupting the status quo.”