CC Young resident Ralph Dugger, right, and another volunteer help out at CC Young’s television studio. (Photo courtesy of CC Young)

A pandemic-period initiative to livestream religious services at one continuing care retirement / life plan community has transformed into a full-blown TV studio.

Now, CC Young Senior Living in Dallas is hoping to upload front-facing content created at their resident-run studio for a full-blown YouTube channel, Brian Parman, director of CC Young’s activity center, told McKnight’s Tuesday.

“We’ve taken a quantum leap since COVID,” Parman said of tech for residents. “Residents have really embraced the technology. We’ve invested a good amount in having HDMI cameras in locations on our campus. We built the studio out of a closet. And now we’re building out a deck of original content.”

The wide variety of video programming produced includes the aforementioned church broadcasts, intra-community news, musical performances and lifelong learning courses, Parman said.

The studio is run by volunteers such as CC Young resident Ralph Dugger, who have a wide variety of backgrounds and prior knowledge about using the technology.

“It gives me a great amount of pleasure working with the equipment,” Dugger said. “I had the computer and tech skills but no media background. It’s been exciting to work in the studio, setting up the cameras, televising, recording and working with presenters. It gives us a chance to overcome that fear of the unknown and allow yourself the freedom to just ‘try’ out something.”

The resident volunteers include those living with dementia, and the work gives them a sense of purpose and identity, Parman said. 

The vigor with which CC Young’s residents have approached the TV studio and its related projects speaks to a broader willingness to use new technology, including smartphones and devices such as Amaxon’s Alexa.

“Seniors are realizing so much of this tech is relevant to them,” said Daphne Lee, CC Young’s tech instructor

Lee, who said she’s been working with that age group for 20 years, has watched older adults adjust from using desktop computers to being more comfortable with mobile devices.

The idea of navigating apps via touch still is uncomfortable for many, Lee said, likening the learning process to developing a golf swing. Although Lee said she believes that older adults are embracing the tools available to them, such as Uber or social media, an opportunity still exists for developers to target apps for them by making the icons larger or more responsive to the slower, more deliberate movements of older adults, Lee said.

Overall, increased tech literacy and use could lead to residents staying connected to friends and families, but also for senior living communities to integrate and interact with one another, as in the case of video content, Parman said.

“There’s a huge opportunity for people in senior living to help make that happen safely and securely,” Parman said.