On full moon days, there would be outdoor moonlight dinners. Meals were eaten in the common mess, movie nights were a regular occurrence and happy occasions were celebrated together. This was how the 62 residents led their retired life in Graceland, a gated community for senior citizens in Ernakulam’s Mulanthuruthy. But all that changed when the pandemic struck in 2020. It was not easy for the residents to live with COVID-19 regulations for the last 1.5 years, but they succeeded – not a single case has been reported among them.
Almost all of them over 70, Graceland’s residents live in villas and apartments in the community. All of them are retired and lead a peaceful life enjoying the activities provided by Graceland. But after COVID-19, they had to restrain themselves from many of their daily activities to prevent the infection from entering their community.
“Only one of our residents – who had to get admitted in hospital for another health reason – tested positive and passed away. She caught the infection from the hospital, no other cases have been reported in our community. But managing everything in the pandemic has not been easy,” says Babu Mathew, Administration Manager at Graceland.
Many of the social activities of the community’s residents had to be stopped. “Housekeeping is done only twice a week now. Also we cut short staff contact with the residents, as staff members would need to go out,” Babu adds.
Residents are allowed outside the community only in the case of emergencies. Being restricted inside has not been easy for the seniors. “Many of them are under mental pressure due to the pandemic and the restrictions. But we provide them psychological support. We have nurses in the community itself, there is a doctor on-call facility, and there are other staff members at their service,” Babu explains. “Some residents insist on going out, but most of them understand the situation and follow all the protocols. We follow a complete lockdown inside the community,” he adds.
Usually, meals would be served to residents at the common mess so that they don’t have to cook at home. Now food is delivered at their doorstep so they don’t have to gather in the mess. But the social life of the seniors is not totally restricted. “Morning and evening walks, meeting up to talk, etc is allowed. In case anyone has to go outside the community, they are asked to maintain quarantine for a few days,” Babu says.
Graceland is built on 3.5 acres of land with all amenities for the senior residents. The management provides home nursing services as well as all other medical facilities needed for the elderly. “Sometimes relatives of the residents are unable to reach even for their last rites. But we support them just as if we’re their children,” Babu says.
Graceland has a games area, library, home theatre, indoor and outdoor dining, yoga and meditation services, and an Ayurveda treatment centre.