Creating effective communication for the audience engagement during lockdown

Marketing guru Seth Godin once famously said, “It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.” These words have never rung truer than now. The world is enveloped in gloom right now. You only have to switch on your phone or open the newspaper, and there’s just one bad news after the other. So, marketers would perhaps have to pause and think – what are the top four things that the consumer is craving the most right now? To my mind, they are: Positivity Hope Empathy Stability This is a great time to build brand love, provided marketers are able to craft a communication and engagement strategy incorporating the above during these uncertain times, they would be able to win life long loyalists of their brands. An effective communication strategy is one that serves as a voice of reason while being empathetic and staying true to the brand’s core character. Nike’s “Play Inside to play for the world” messaging urging people to stay indoors to save lives, is an excellent example of this. It shows how, a brand, during times of need and crisis, can do volte face while being true to their personality. This is also a time to express gratitude and shine the spotlight on those that help us navigate these uncertain times. And brands have to take the lead in this gratitude journey. Brands have also realised that if they do their bit during these distressful times, there will almost be an organic pull in terms of engagement. Swiggy’s recent “Shukriya Kare” campaign thanking not just delivery boys of Swiggy but also those of Dunzo was a wonderful act. And it did make a very pertinent point. The point being that this is no time to take a dig at competition brands and oust them. This is the time to come together, stay united, and try to keep spirits high by spreading positivity. A great example of brands batting for each other during this crisis is the Lays “Thanks for the HeartWork” campaign, which is a tribute to the unsung heroes in the war against COVID, acknowledging the hard work of brands such as KFC to Whisper and Urban Company. In the face of marketing budget cuts, marketers are divided on whether or not to spend marketing dollars now – at a time when people are not consuming their products or services. While some are taking a “wait and watch” stance, we, at Columbia Pacific Communities, believe that this is no time to go dark or remain silent for a brand. On the contrary, for a brand like ours catering to a demographic that is the worst hit by COVID-19 (senior citizens), this is the best time to engage with them with a message of hope, positivity and wellbeing. The most successful brands in the world are purpose driven. They go beyond selling a product. And they believe in solving a problem and making a positive impact in the world. The right kind of communication can play a crucial role in inspiring consumers at this gloomy hour. Almost immediately after the nationwide lockdown was announced, we acted swiftly and launched a 19-day social media campaign titled #PositiveLockdown. The objective of this campaign was to ensure that seniors make the most of the lockdown period and try out new experiences or nurture old hobbies that they had earlier not found time for. Through a digital activity calendar of sorts, we shared ideas of things seniors could indulge in – from reading the books they hadn’t found time to read, to learning an instrument and playing online antakshari, to giving gardening a shot. The campaign reached over 12.5 lakh people and garnered over 13.1 lakh impressions. The next phase of our COVID communication saw us engaging with our customers through a campaign titled #SeniorsInCommand. The campaign, much like its name suggests, was an ode to seniors who have taken charge of the situation and gone beyond their call of duty to help and support communities affected by the virus. Everyday heroes in our community like ladies who are making masks for frontline warriors or those that are teaching kids online, were brought to the fore. This campaign too reached of over 10 lakh people. We also launched a weekly virtual chat show titled The Living Room using the FB live feature of Facebook, bringing experts and luminaries to the living rooms of seniors through social media. This initiative resulted in a 193% jump in conversations and reached over 1.3 lakh people, featuring people from different walks of life – from actor-activist-director Nandita Das, Kabir Bedi, to adman Prahlad Kakkar, cricket commentator Charu Sharma and super chef Nimish Bhatia. These initiatives are not taken with the objective of driving sales. We are aware that ultimately, a consumer’s purchase decision (particularly of a high-value product) is not really based on whether he/she enjoyed a live session on a brand’s Facebook page. And this is where Seth’s words come alive. This is the time to love, care and do our bit without looking at sales and conversion numbers. This is also the time to build awareness around your brand if you are an emerging brand or create salience and “top of mind” if you are an established brand, because consumers are consuming more content than ever on digital platforms. And the only way to do this is through effective storytelling and a noble intent. Brands must ensure that communication is in line with the crisis at hand. Marketers need to be hyper-aware, hypersensitive and have their ears to the ground to avoid sounding tone-deaf or cloth-eared during these troubled times. This is not the time to do a “CORONA sale” and try to capitalise on a pandemic. Brands can’t afford to be irresponsible and insensitive towards certain sections of society. A classic example of a brand communication strategy going horribly wrong was the Kent RO ad. So, this is the time to step back, hit the reset button, think, rethink, study and understand consumer sentiments, and then build a strategy that is a win-win for the brand as well as the end-user.

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Communication and marketing in the age of COVID 19

The current COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly one of the worst in living memory for most people. The suddenness and the rapid spread of the virus across the world have caught many companies (and governments) by surprise. The reactions of many of business leaders and heads of government have ranged from shell-shocked silence to impressive displays of leadership. The pandemic is not going away anytime soon and like it or not, businesses have to start preparing themselves now to deal with the new normal post-COVID-19 because the way we work and live, transact businesses and communicate would be dramatically changed. We spoke to Piali Dasgupta, Vice President Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities to know how her organisation is readjusting its marketing and communication strategy. Here are the excerpts- What are the changes experienced in the marketing/communication strategy developed in last 3 – 4 months The changes in marketing/communication strategy in the past quarter have been driven by three factors: Gaining customer trust back through effective communication highlighting safety and hygiene measures adopted by them along with ensuring a mostly contact free customer experience/journey. Reducing discretionary spends and focusing on ROI-driven marketing as more and more marketers adopt a “wait and watch” strategy and hold off spends on big campaigns till the situation normalises. Using hope, human connection, kindness, gratitude and empathy as the key sentiments for brand narratives. Examples of this include Swiggy’s campaign to thank the delivery boys who tirelessly deliver food and essentials to customers to Coca Cola’s UmmeedonWaaliDhoop and Asian Paints’ #stayhomestaysafe campaign, “Seniors in Command”, a campaign by Columbia Pacific Communities, to salute seniors who have gone beyond their calls of duty and during these troubled times, brand communication was certainly very high on EQ the past few months. Quick adoption to digital mediums and focusing on indoor mediums such as television to spread the brand / product message. Please tell us about change in the marketing mix Almost all digital KPIs have seen a massive uptake across demographics in the past three months – from average time spent on platforms to the number of downloads. This has resulted in brands shifting a large chunk of their offline budget to digital media. This, coupled with a drop in both CPM and CPC pricing on platforms such as Facebook by 50% and 19% globally, has led to brands across categories such as FMCG, real estate and edutech, who are looking at getting the best returns from their marketing investments given the budget cuts. Spends on television have increased post COVID with a 38% surge in TV viewing the past few months with channels such as Star Plus witnessing a significant increase in their HD viewership across major cities. There is no longer a concept of prime time in televisions as every hour is now a prime time. Television channels are offering spots at discounted prices, trying to lure advertisers to loosen their purse strings. Major advertisers such as HUL have already increased their TV inventory by almost 40%. There will be a tendency to shift print ad budgets to television. How do you foresee the shift from conventional marketing mediums to digital/social mediums? Brands that spent on theatre ads will now shift spends to OTT channels, that have seen a spike in average time spent on their platforms by 34 per cent increase. Mediums such as whatsapp, having witnessed a 40% surge in usage post COVID-19, will be used by marketers to push out sales messages or resolve customer issues. There would be many takers for audio digital – clearly the most promising medium in the future of digital marketing, and one that is largely untapped by marketers. Digital audio platforms such as JioSaavn, that have recorded an 18% increase in podcast streams in the past quarter along with a record high in average time spent on the platform to 44 minutes, will attract advertisers. What are the factors one must consider while developing marketing/communication strategy during COVID-19 times? Marketers need to be hyper aware, hyper sensitive and have their ears to the ground to avoid sounding tone deaf or cloth-eared during these troubled times. This is not a time to do a “CORONA sale” and try to capitalise on a pandemic. Nor can brands afford to be irresponsible and insensitive towards certain sections of society. A classic example of a brand communication strategy going horribly wrong was the Kent RO ad. Brands must ensure that communication is in line with the crisis at hand, while not going dark during this time. This is also a great time to build a very meaningful relationship with your customers by giving them what they most want – hope, and making them feel that you are there for them. At Columbia Pacific Communities, we launched a campaign called #PositiveLockdown which helped create an activity calendar of sorts for seniors to ensure they stay engaged and productive and look at the lockdown period positively. We also launched FB chat titled The Living Room bringing experts and luminaries to the living rooms of seniors through social media. This initiative resulted in a 193% jump in conversations. The other factor to consider would be the PM’s plea to be “vocal about local” to nurse the economy back into good health. Showcasing the “Indianness” and solving for “Bharat” would be a priority for most brand communication strategists at this point.

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Things to keep in mind while selecting senior living community

Senior living communities are a solution to the problems faced by real estate. However, for reasons both good and bad, they have never been viewed as what they are really meant to be. Here are a few aspects that people should keep in mind while choosing a senior living community. In the past, senior living communities were majorly viewed as places that were meant only for old-age people who have been abandoned by their children. However, in real, senior living communities offer the residents, services and wellness combination that fulfils all the needs of the residents. Moreover, the facilities change with the evolving needs of the residents. A senior living community should ideally offer the residents the following: On product front: Private and public spaces that are accessible, functional and usable for all residents immaterial of their age and ability to move. The design of the building, its services – in terms of lighting levels, wall and floor finishes, transitions, elevator design and specifications should be such that residents should be able to access all areas of the community at all times, independently. The public space is the living room of the community. Therefore, the space that is allocated should be disproportionately more (8 to 10 times) than the standard allocation to such spaces in a mixed-family condominium. Social interaction and group activities are an integral part of a community that is designed for seniors. The space and design of public areas should encourage and allow both small and large groups to meet, interact and pursue common interests. On services front: The services design should look after the day-to-day needs of the residents – whether they are in the community, away for a short weekend trip, or visiting their children for a couple of months. Every single need of the resident, i.e. security, housekeeping, maintenance, dietary and even advisory support on legal and financial matters should be either provided or arranged by the service provider. The well-being program should ensure that residents remain healthier for longer. This approach to positive ageing should ensure that residents are encouraged to participate in organised activities that keep them physically strong, mentally alert, and intellectually engaged in a socially active environment. The success of a senior living community lies in the quality of service being provided. A senior living community should ideally provide all the modern facilities for the comfort of the residents, as are there in an integrated township. Team members whose every action is guided by a principle of unconditional love, respect and care for their residents will differentiate a good community from others. On wellness front: The wellness program must be supported by an organisation that excels in health care. This will ensure that the medical and paramedical support, provided at the community, will inculcate the best practices of the profession. Strong and reliable relationships with hospitals in the neighbourhood will ensure that the residents have prompt and preferred attention at the time they actually require. In a senior living community, the residents should be encouraged to do, not what they have to, but what they want to. They should feel confident that the community is there to support them in whatever they do and at all times. All these aspects together define the success and popularity of a senior living community.

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Celebrity chef Nimish Bhatia talks about role of food in building communities

The Bengaluru-based chef says the COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on restaurants It’s been a few months since many people across the world enjoyed a dinner outside their homes. They are locked in, forced to cook on days they don’t want to or cannot order food. But chef Nimish Bhatia reckons cooking needn’t be forced. “It can be therapeutic. It can give you a high. We usually associate food with taste. But actually, you can see, smell, touch and taste the food. You can even hear it while it’s cooking. It appeals to all the senses,” he says. Chef Bhatia’s usually on the go, flying within and outside India to serve as a consultant for luxury hotels. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to be at his home in Bengaluru. Like others, he’s been engaging with people online. On June 26, he will participate in The Living Room, a Facebook live series of talks by Columbia Pacific Communities, a senior living community. The chef believes the pandemic will have a long-term impact on restaurants. And, it isn’t entirely negative. “Hygiene ratings will henceforth be taken very seriously. Even after everything’s back to normal, people will be cautious of picking the restaurants they want to dine at. So, the restaurants that don’t follow proper hygiene protocols will get ignored.” Food, he says, is an integral part of human connection. “Of course, we can talk about Netflix shows and other things. But after a while, we ask, ‘Hey, what’s there to eat?’. When you are dining with other people, you just don’t share the food; you share your mood. It can impact your co-diners.” “Food can uplift your mood. For example, when you tweak a recipe and discover a completely new dish. That can give you a great high.” Chef Bhatia’s The Living Room session will be streamed at 3 pm, June 26 on Columbia Pacific Communities’ Facebook page.

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Role Of Food In Building Communities

The power of the voice and drum is not to be taken lightly: Vasundhara Das on music as therapy

Vasundhara Das, who has donned several hats, including that of an entrepreneur and environmentalist, is passionate about music therapy and continues to further the cause of using music for community building and leadership, as a drum jam facilitator in India. Making an indelible mark with her singing in films like Hey Ram, Lagaan, Monsoon Wedding among several others, singer-songwriter Vasundhara Das needs no introduction. Das, who has donned several hats, including that of an entrepreneur and environmentalist, is passionate about music therapy and continues to further the cause of using music for community building and leadership, as a drum jam facilitator in India. By using the “powerful medium of voice and rhythm”, she and her partner Roberto Narain conduct training programmes at corporations, communities, schools and colleges across India, and have “now trained almost 200 people from different walks of life”. Recently, Das addressed senior citizens virtually as part of the 16th edition of #TheLivingRoom (by Columbia Pacific Communities – senior living community operator) which consists of a series of 40-minute Facebook Live sessions for seniors to interact with some of the finest minds in the country. At the sidelines of the event, Das, who is trained in Hindustani classical music, spoke to on exploring music as a therapeutic medium and more. From a singer-songwriter, how did you start with drum jams? Once a musician, always a musician. I’m busy surrounding myself with interesting possibilities of working with music in different situations. The singer-songwriter-composer in me continues to stay stimulated. I’ve been a drum circle facilitator along with my partner Roberto Narain who pioneered the use of drum circles in corporate India through our organisation Drumjam, working with communities and companies alike to use voice, rhythm and spontaneous music making as a medium of empowerment, community building, creative expression, experiential learning, team management, bridging socio-economic differences and so much more. Since 2013, in Bengaluru, on the third Sunday of every month, at Rangoli Metro Art Center on MG Road, from 4pm to 6pm, we have been organising a free, family-friendly community drum jam which has been attended by hundreds of people. We hope to resume this once we feel safe again to gather post the COVID-19 crisis. Roberto and I are certified drum circle facilitation trainers in India and have now trained almost 200 people from different walks of life to use the powerful medium of voice and rhythm to impact their communities. This path has led me to be more curious and explore more deeply the effects of interactive and spontaneous music making on mental well-being and further down the path of using sound as a healing mechanism. And that led you to explore music as a therapy? At the outset, let me clarify that I am not a music therapist. I am a musician who understands the value and possibility of the impact of music, specifically spontaneous music — using voice, rhythm, melody, harmony and silence — on mental health and well-being for many different populations. As a drum circle facilitator, my team and I have worked with children, children at risk, youth, adults, elderly, elderly with dementia and Parkinson’s disease and terminally-ill cancer patients. By definition, music therapy is the use of music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of a group or individual. It employs a variety of activities like listening to familiar music, playing an instrument, drumming, singing, guided imagery and much more. A music therapist needs to first be a therapist, who understands the psychology behind people’s behaviour, and then employ the right tools from the realm of music and its possibilities as they see fit on a case by case basis. Since people’s minds are unique and challenges of health and well-being are unique (with very little scope for generalisation), it is difficult to make a sweeping statement like “it positively impacts one and all”. Our taste in music and reaction to certain concepts and elements of music differ from one person to the next, but what is certain is music impacts one and all. The kind of impact on each person is very subjective. Because of the many parameters that differ from type of intervention to type of individual, comprehensive, generalised conclusions through research are difficult to arrive at. But that said, there is a lot of research out there about the effects of music – therapy or spontaneous – on mental health and well-being. In my experience, the power of the voice and the drum is not to be taken lightly. As humans, we have a primal connection with the voice and the drum since both instruments were our main form of communication even before we developed language. And to allow people to say, sing, touch, play, try, feel and express with these two mediums can be very empowering and cathartic. You recently facilitated a session #TheLivingRoom by Columbia Pacific Communities. How was the experience? My association with Columbia Pacific Communities predates the Covid-19 lockdown. We had initiated a series of drum jams in the month of March for many of their communities. The session I facilitated for Serene Urbana, one of their communities in Bengaluru, was a wonderful success. But the lockdown put a spanner in our plans and we are waiting for a safer time to interact with their other communities again. And while they have been very proactively bringing activities regularly to their communities, they too have had to make a shift in terms of how to engage with the elders. I find that #TheLivingRoom is a great way to engage seniors and their minds positively and am very happy to be part of this initiative. Vasundhara Das Live #TheLivingRoom Columbia Pacific Communities यांनी वर पोस्ट केले गुरुवार, १८ जून, २०२० How were your music-enabled experiences of working with children with special needs? I have facilitated drum circles through Community Drumjam Foundation for a variety of populations of children with varying challenges – autism, AIDS, cerebral palsy, physical challenges, children at risk – in orphanages/care homes; the scope of possibilities beyond these populations is also very large. But again, each child is unique, how they react and interact is different. What works for some may not work for others. For example, not all children in the autism spectrum react positively to drumming while some others blossom. So a generalisation is impossible. Different modalities work for different personalities, but usually the entertainment experienced in a well-facilitated drum circle is what takes children or any other population to their unique special place — whether that’s dancing in the middle of the circle or sitting silently absorbing the vibrations massaging their nerves. I work mainly facilitating their musicality in that particular moment. So it’s almost always spontaneous music with the emphasis on them being the creators of that music and me being a mere facilitator of their creation. Benefits of this could range from creative expression, experiential learning, empowerment, acceptance, true happiness, release, and so much more. What would you suggest for someone looking to explore more about music as a therapy? In this time (the age of information and knowledge), everything is one click away. There are many modalities of music therapy. Each person’s quest is their own and their path their own. So one needs to be curious and find what they are specifically looking to do. As someone who works with people from diverse backgrounds and challenges, what do you think of the entire conversation surrounding mental health? The taboo and shame around people seeking help needs to go. Mental issues are experienced by every single one of us in varying degrees. The difference is merely that some are able to cope by using different modalities by themselves, and others need professional help. Nobody’s life is perfect all the time. But we need to be more open and accepting of each other and our respective challenges. The lockdown put physical distance between us and made us look at our immediate surroundings under a lens so we can understand the daily challenges faced by those nearest and dearest to us. If you ask me, that’s an opportunity to redefine relationships and be a better person all around.

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8 natural ways to boost your Immune System in your golden years, By – Dr. Kanchan Sanyal, Advisor Health and Wellness, Columbia Pacific Communities

Immune system starts to weaken with age and becomes less efficient when responding to infections. With age, one has to bring a few changes in lifestyle to build and maintain a good immunity system. Here are 8 strategies that the elderly can employ to give their immune systems a boost. Wash hands: Washing hands thoroughly and often helps prevent the spread of disease-causing germs. Lather hands with soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing with water. Eat a healthy- balanced diet: Eating nutrient-rich food is another way to boost immune system. This includes eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain vitamins and antioxidants. Reduce the intake of sugar, fat, and processed foods, and choose lean meats to maintain a healthy dietary regimen. Be active: Practicing physical activities such as walking, running, yoga, swimming, or any other low impact workouts regularly plays an essential part in boosting immunity. Taking up 30 minutes of physical activity everyday can be very beneficial as it increases blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Reduce stress level: Chronic stress affects immune system and decreases its effectiveness. Chronic stress lowers immune system response, making the body susceptible to viruses and illnesses. To reduce stress levels, engage in relaxing activities, such as reading or gardening. Get plenty of sleep: Insufficient sleep may hinder the immune system’s ability to respond to infection and inflammation. Sleep becomes increasingly important with age because it also helps improve brain function, concentration, and memory. A good 7 to 9 hours of sleep is advised to older adults for a healthy body. Avoid smoking and drinking: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immunity system making it more difficult to fight colds, the flu, and other viruses. Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration is also key in boosting immune function. Water helps the body absorb nutrients and minerals, and flush body waste which is critical in building immunity. Aim to drink at least eight to nine glasses of fluid a day to avoid dehydration. Spend time outdoors: Vitamin D also helps strengthen the immune system. Spending additional time outdoors allows the body to naturally convert vitamin D from sun exposure which helps in building immunity.

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Vasundhara’s focus is now music therapy

Vasundhara Das, actor and singer, is promoting music therapy as a way to destress. “Music is very subjective — what you find interesting may not be the same for others,” she told Metrolife, after speaking to an online audience for about 45 minutes on Thursday. It can help deal with many situations, even something like bad Bengaluru traffic. “If I listen to something that pleases me, I react to the chaos of it differently,” she says. The situation determines the kind of music that helps. “If I’m stuck in traffic, something melodic relaxes me. On a highway, I would prefer rock to get me excited. Similarly, depending on what I’m feeling, music is my go-to to get the adrenaline going,”she told Metrolife. When amongst a group, subjective choices in music may not work. “Here the content has to be universal. One needs to be mindful and try to understand this. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and we focus on community building,” she says. The lockdown has been a period for reflection and she is using the time to attend webinars and workshops. Vasundhara is not keen to get back to the movies. “It was a huge part of my life but I’m in a different space now. I don’t regret it but I don’t miss it either. I’m following a different path now,” she says. The 16th edition of a series titled #TheLivingRoom saw the actor, musician and entrepreneur talk about the role of music in mental wellness for the elderly. Shakalaka baby Vasundhara Das is the singer of a string of hits, such as ‘Chale Jaise Hawayein’ (Main Hoon Na), ‘Kahin To Hogi Woh’ (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na), ‘Salaame’ (Dhoom), ‘Shakalaka Baby’ (Mudhalvan) and ‘Soni Soni’ (Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein),among others. . The Bengaluru musician has also acted in films such as ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Ravanaprabhu’, ‘Corporate’ and ‘Ek Dastak’.

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COVID-19 spurs demand for retirement homes

Room-delivered meals, virtual yoga, psychologists on call: A look at why senior living is the new realty hotspot A few weeks ago, a touching video of Walter Willard, 91, reuniting with his ailing wife Jean Willard, 89, went viral. Walter had been visiting Jean at a nursing home in New York every day for the last few years, but when the lockdown hit, his visits were stopped. The video was made when the two were reunited, and it was followed by several stories of elderly couples forced to stay apart due to the pandemic. Closer home, a Facebook page called Caremongers India was created to assist people during the lockdown. Today, a majority of the posts on the popular group seek assistance for elderly family members stuck somewhere alone. A look at how the pandemic has impacted vulnerable communities around the world shows that the elderly are among the worst hit. Volunteers at New Delhi-based Agewell Foundation reached out to 5,000 individuals over the phone, and their survey found that 70% of the elderly were either already facing health complications or feared developing an issue or could not access periodic check-ups due to the lockdown. Other issues included the unavailability of regular medicines, physiotherapy sessions and so on. Why India’s senior citizens are opting for retirement homes Demand drivers Given the vulnerability of elderly people living alone, it isn’t surprising that the demand for retirement homes and assisted living facilities is on the rise. Columbia Pacific Communities, which caters to 1,600 families across nine facilities in Bengaluru, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Coimbatore and Puducherry, has seen a four-time increase in applications. “Of the new queries, 60% are for immediate occupation,” says CEO Mohit Nirula, adding that they receive nearly 30 calls a day now compared to the 10-15 queries pre-COVID. In the past, a majority of queries came from potential residents (aged 65+) or from their children. Now, they are seeing an exponential rise in requests from the 45-60 years age group. “These are individuals who, despite owning large properties, are realising that a community lifestyle is better suited for hassle-free living where the responsibility lies with the service provider.” What is causing this shift? The lockdown has clearly amplified fears of isolation, falling ill, and the need for external caregivers, making the idea of a retirement home or semi-assisted living community attractive. Arun Gupta, CEO of Age Ventures India, agrees. The company has retirement homes in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, and upcoming projects in Greater Gurgaon, Jabalpur, Kolkata and Hyderabad. “Queries have doubled for the Gurgaon project. We are also seeing an increased interest for the Jabalpur and Kolkata projects even though they are on lease mode,” he says. For a 1BHK in Bengaluru, the rent is Rs. 17,000 per month onwards, going up to Rs. 30,000 for a 2BHK apartment. “In Ahmedabad, the cost is Rs. 15,000-Rs. 28,000 a month.” Even the more modest old age homes and care centres have pitched in. Chennai-based Anandam is a free home for indigent seniors, which runs on donations. Bhageerathy Ramamoorthy, Managing Trustee, says all 105 residents were given influenza shots when the crisis was emerging. “No visitors are allowed on the premises and milk packets, vegetables and other essentials, including donations in kind, are sanitised before we bring them in,” she says. Washable masks have been provided and social distancing norms are adhered to. “Our residents cook their own food and since April 1, they have even made 1,000 food packets twice a week for donating to migrant labourer camps and Corporation workers,” says Ramamoorthy. All You Need to Know About Retirement Homes Post-Covid changes At the Columbia Pacific facilities, all residents wear masks, practise social distancing and have minimal or no contact with the external environment. Care is also taken to keep them in good spirits. “We keep them emotionally connected with friends and family through technology and interactions with experts and celebrities,” says Nirula. When the lockdown was announced, Gupta asked a few staff members to stay at the homes and take up roles across departments. “We had to sacrifice routine housekeeping of common spaces and apartments were cleaned on alternate days. We dropped a few items from our standard menu and began to deliver food to the rooms,” he says. Medical care Medical facilities are perhaps first on the list when people look at assisted living facilities. Nirula says a community doctor, resident nurses and paramedical staff are a standard feature in their communities. “The 24×7 availability of an ambulance and driver and existing relationships with nearby hospitals has kept residents at ease. We also roped in an NGO for anxiety counselling.” At Age Well Ventures, programmes on mental health hosted on Zoom, and yoga sessions have kept residents engaged. Market watch The South is ahead when it comes to senior living. Coimbatore, Puducherry, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kodaikanal, Mysuru, Kochi and Kanchipuram have nearly 65% of the country’s overall senior living projects. Other cities include Pune and Vadodara in the West and Bhiwadi, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Dehradun in the North. Prashant Thakur, director and head of research at Anarock Property Consultants, says that the Covid scare has given renewed credence to the senior living segment, which is the only residential real estate category with a strong healthcare component. “It is now emerging as an exciting but under-served alternate asset class. In light of the recent crisis, senior living may turn out to be more than just a unique mix of real estate, hospitality and healthcare.”

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New film from Columbia Pacific Communities delivers message of hope to seniors

This pandemic has left us all feeling vulnerable and, at times, hopeless. Senior citizens, in particular, living away from their children, are the worst hit by COVID-19, with many feeling anxious and distraught. Columbia Pacific Communities, India’s largest senior living community operators, addresses this despair through a message of positivity in their newly launched digital film Community Beats Uncertainty. The film documents the life experiences of baby boomers – a generation that has witnessed a number of adversities – from world wars to epidemics and economic disasters. Their life experiences and wisdom gives them enough confidence to know that they will get through this pandemic as well. Because, a no matter how unprecedented and unravelling a crisis is, a community always comes together to combat it. And that’s the true spirit of a community. The film is conceptualized and scripted by award-winning creative agency Famous Innovations and produced in-house maintaining all social distancing norms. But what makes this a truly special and unique initiative is the fact that Columbia Pacific Communities has given three of its residents an opportunity to lend their voices to this message of hope and revival. Abraham Thomas, Nalini Sundaram and Balakrishna Shetty from Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities are the voices of hope. Piali Dasgupta, Vice President, Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities, said, “Community building is at the heart of everything we do at Columbia Pacific Communities. And it is a community that comes together in the face of all adversities- even if it is a black swan event such as COVID-19. Senior citizens the world over have witnessed all sorts of calamities and great affliction. “This film salutes their indomitable spirit and resilience and underlines the message that a community stands together in the face of crisis. With this humble message of hope, we hope to spread positivity among the demography that’s worst affected by the pandemic – our seniors,” Dasgupta said. During the pandemic, Columbia Pacific Communities has taken strong precautionary measures to protect its senior resident by ensuring that that residents are protected from the external environment, while taking care of all their day to day needs including. During this phase, they have also managed to keep the community engagement levels high through a host of digital initiatives to ensure that while residents are physically distanced, they are emotionally connected through the use of technology. Their digital initiative #TheLivingRoom, which hosts talk shows with experts and luminaries from diverse fields via Facebook live, open to participation for all, is one such example. The film has been live on official social media channels of Columbia Pacific Communities from June 6th.

Continue reading “New film from Columbia Pacific Communities delivers message of hope to seniors”


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2999, 12th A Main Rd,
HAL 2nd Stage Indiranagar,
Bengaluru - 560008
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