Savannah Court assisted living facility recently installed a hug booth for residents.

As restaurants reopen, people start to venture out and life somewhat normalizes after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, things are not the same for our most vulnerable populations, such as the residents at Savannah Court Assisted Living Facility of Brandon. For these people, it has been over 100 days since many of them had seen their friends and families face to face.

Chyna Huff, executive director of Savannah Court, knew this was not healthy: “It’s bad enough where the families cannot get in and see them. Humans aren’t made to sustain that type of constant depression, disconnect and loneliness. We had to try to do things that will ease the situation.”

Savannah Court is an active assisted living facility. Its monthly activities included big field trips to places like the USF Botanical Gardens, but Huff had to revamp their offerings for smaller, in-house groups.

Bible study, exercise classes, bingo and music are regular activities, but Huff and her staff have added more events, like ice cream socials and beauty salon days that mimic the aspects of the residents’ routines that they can no longer enjoy. It offers Zoom sessions with family members, recorded messages from families and friends and even window visits where families, friends and residents are safely separated yet able to interact.

Still, Huff realized something was missing. There is nothing that can truly replace the physical touch of another person. So many children, spouses, and residents who deal with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with leaving a family member in assisted living struggle with not being able to hold the hand of their loved ones or give a long-awaited hug.

Huff realized, “They need that contact, just like they need air.”

So, she and her staff have created an innovative way for that to happen. Huff calls it the Hug Booth. It is a box, much like a telephone booth, that can separate two individuals, yet it still allows for a true embrace. Using easy to clean plastic barriers and wearable, disposable gloves/shields, residents can now safely embrace one another, their families and their friends.

Savannah Court of Brandon’s efforts are a testament to the loving, gracious senior care it offers the community. Currently, it provides traditional assisted living in a variety of floor plans as well as overnight respite care for those individuals who may need help for a few days or weeks following a surgery, for example.

When the pandemic passes, it hopes to again offer day services designed for caregivers who may need eight hours once in a while or on a regular basis to fulfill obligations they would not be able to do while caring for their family member.

For more information or to take a virtual tour, call 603-7844 or visit www.slm.net/senior-living/fl/brandon/savannah-court-of-brandon/. Personalized virtual tours are also available for those who have specific questions and want to hear resident interviews.

Find it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SavannahCourtBrandonAssistedLiving. Savannah Court of Brandon, ALF License #9353, is located at 824 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon.