Residents of an Olive Branch senior living facility were no doubt anxious to enjoy some time out of their rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic Sunday, so a break to sit out in the sunshine and listen to music was a welcome treat.
Jeanna Julson and Andy Blankenship, both active in Theatre Memphis, entertained residents of the Olive Grove Terrace Senior Assisted Living on a sunny afternoon with music. For close to an hour, they sang a variety of songs geared for the residents to remember and reminisce on the “good ol’ days,” from “Que Sera, Sera,” to “What’s That Jazz.”
While social distancing kept both performers and the audience at a safe distance, thanks to a speaker projecting the songs from the roof of a pickup truck parked in the home’s parking lot, Blankenship and Julson connected with their audience by their songs.
The pair, who call themselves Stardust Standards, actually met Olive Grove Terrace Administrator John Bianco through the theater.
“We met through ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner’ at Theatre Memphis last year,” Julson said.
Bianco welcomed Blankenship and Julson to Olive Grove Terrace, knowing the residents would enjoy the music.
“They (residents) have just been so cooped up in here with no family visits and we had to do something,” Bianco said. “When they (Blankenship and Julson) offered to do this I thought it was a great idea. We practiced social distancing and it’s just good entertainment, a really good thing for them and let our residents hear some music from their generation.”
“I’ve done this for a couple of years with several retirement communities, where I’d put on a little hour-long show,” Blankenship said. “The residents can’t have friends or family come in and everything. I told Jeanna about it and she said, ‘I want to do it with you.’”
As with other homes and facilities catering to seniors, Bianco said Olive Grove Terrace has had to adjust its policies about its operations and visitors.
“Right now, we’re serving meals in their rooms,” said Bianco. “When we do exercises, we keep them six feet apart. It’s been challenging, but everyone’s happy, healthy and safe. We’re on the right track.”
Visitation to Olive Grove Terrace is limited to only two family members over the age of 12 and only in end-of-life situations, Bianco said.
“There’s no visitation unless they’re at end-of-life stages, and then we let them come in,” Bianco said. “But the visitors have to go straight to the room and straight out of the building. It’s pretty stringent if we do have a visitor.”
Outside healthcare providers serving current residents, a resident’s ombudsman, and essential vendors and delivery personnel are also able to enter. They must not have symptoms that may suggest coronavirus.