40th Anniversary Celebrations: Activities & Programming

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 2, 2022
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At Sunrise, every day is an opportunity—to get active, learn something new, enjoy a favorite pastime or hobby, and spend time making connections with friends, neighbors, and loved ones. This is thanks to the incredible programs and events facilitated by our team members. So, as part of our continued 40th anniversary celebrations in May, we’re focusing on 40 years of fun with activities and programs.

Through our signature Sunrise Live With PurposeTM programs, residents in all communities and across every neighborhood can choose from a variety of activities that meet their unique interests and passions.

“Sunrise Live With PurposeTM helps residents do more of what they love and is a huge part of the personalized Sunrise lifestyle,” said Vice President of Engagement and Program Services Michelle Minor. “Residents can participate in the programs that most interest them. From exercise classes and garden clubs to painting and puzzles to music therapy and more, there is an activity to meet just about everyone’s interests. And residents can participate in the way they choose. They may love group events or prefer activities they can enjoy one-on-one with a team member or solo in the comfort of their suites.”

Each community has team members who are charged with developing programming that is fresh, engaging, and fun: Activities and Volunteer Coordinators (AVCs) and Activities Directors (ADs). They work closely with community leadership, residents, and families to build and a comprehensive calendar of programs that are tailored based on local offerings and then customized to meet the preferences of each resident.

“Quality programming is more than a fun way to pass the time—it impacts quality of life,” said Michelle. “In that sense, it is also a key competent of Sunrise’s holistic approach to providing a lifestyle that promotes wellness and engagement. We know staying active and connected is good for your heath—physical, mental, and spiritual—especially for seniors. It has always been a Sunrise priority for four decades and counting.

While the Sunrise team has always been creative in their approach to programs and events, outside-the-box thinking became essential at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when group activities and outside visitors with limited to help mitigate the spread of the virus.  

“Even at the height of the pandemic, the creativity of our AVCs and ADs was invaluable as they continued to provide a number of safe, but engaging activities when residents were spending most of their days in their suites,” she said. “We introduced Suite Stops where team members would bring games, activities, snacks, and drinks directly to residents’ rooms.”

The pandemic led to other innovative solutions, including supplying every community with additional dedicated tablets and iPads to facilitate virtual visits between residents and loved ones to keep those connections strong—even when they couldn’t see each other in-person.

Fortunately, over the past year-plus, Sunrise has gladly welcomed brighter days and a new way of operating that has enabled communities to introduce activities—both resident favorites and new opportunities—and welcomed back beloved visitors while still prioritizing infection control to help keep residents and team members safe and healthy during the ongoing pandemic. Still, the team remains flexible and ready to adjust to whatever new challenges may come their way.

“As tough as the pandemic has been, we’ve learned a lot and proven to ourselves, our residents, and families how flexible and adaptable we are even in the most unprecedented of circumstances. And through it all, always prioritizing the livelihood of those in our communities,” said Michelle. “While we’re thrilled that community life today looks more like it did before the beginning of the pandemic, we remain poised to adapt our programs to residents’ future needs.” 

Beyond Sunrise Live With Purpose,TM another important piece of daily life at Sunrise is an incredible team of intergenerational volunteers who engage with residents and help light up their days. Volunteers may include scout troops, local students, family members, and even hospice volunteers who come into communities (virtually and in-person) to help spread joy.

While big-hearted volunteers and industry-leading activities and events have been a Sunrise mainstay for four decades, the team is also always changing, adapting, and introducing new elements to meet the evolving wants, needs, and expectations of current and future residents. One recent example of this is the introduction of our family engagement app.

“We heard from our families that they wanted to better understand what residents were doing in their daily lives at Sunrise,” said Michelle. “So, we introduced our family engagement app as an easy way for our team members to share real-time updates and photos with families. This app is also a way for AVCs and ADs to post activity calendars and have two-way conversations with families. It’s a great function that helps keep our families that much more connected.”

Other new upcoming program offerings include a specialized music therapy session created in partnership with SingfitTM that families can lead with their loved ones during their visits. That should be introduced later this summer. Communities will also introduce a new Live with MelodyTM offering created by Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and Arizona State University. It is a virtual senior wellness series that includes two engaging video collections that are specifically designed to meet therapeutic goals and foster phycological well-being for seniors. Part virtual museum visit, part music therapy session, one video collection is tailored to the needs of those living with memory loss and the other geared more toward active seniors. Stay tuned for more to come on these exciting new offerings!

One thing’s for sure: Thanks to our engaging programs and events, there’s never a dull moment at Sunrise. We’re proud that residents can choose their own adventures and live a life full of meaning, purpose, and fun.