RIDGEFIELD — When the town’s newest assisted living community opened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, staff kept residents entertained with virtual activities, outdoor programs, and arts and fitness classes.
But the facility couldn’t build the connections and relationships with the community that officials wanted to due to the isolation of COVID.
Now, Ridgefield Station Senior Living, an 86-unit assisted living and memory care facility on Old Quarry Road, is celebrating its grand opening on Thursday evening.
“We are excited to finally be able to celebrate the opening of Ridgefield Station with friends, family and the community partners who welcomed us with open arms and hearts,” said Joe Simone, executive director.
Originally opening in 2020 as Atria Ridgefield under the management of Atria Senior Living, the facility is operated by Senior Living Residences — a New England-based group with over 30 years in the business servicing 18 communities.
“When we took over the management of Ridgefield Station in November of 2021, the first thing we wanted to do was to find a way to safely get our residents back out, to be a part of the greater Ridgefield community,” explained Tadd Clelland, Senior Living Residences’ president and CEO.
Toward that end, the group is looking forward to a celebration on Thursday at the facility that helps connect them with the community, with attendees to include First Selectman Rudy Marconi, Selectwoman Barbara Manners and others from around town.
“Building on that sense of community is what our grand opening is all about,” Clelland said.
Simone agreed, citing the challenges of the last two years.
“We missed out on a lot of opportunities we would have otherwise had to connect with local professionals, businesses and other Ridgefield-based groups to help introduce our team and to make a name for ourselves,” Simone said, because of the pandemic and related isolation.
He noted that building relationships with local eldercare professionals is a big part of the business model, which was temporarily curbed during the pandemic.
“Since making the transition to Ridgefield Station, we have been hard at work building up these important relationships and partnerships,” he said. “And the feedback has been great.”
As it did for everyone, the pandemic itself presented some challenges.
“From the beginning, we were committed to keeping everyone as engaged as possible,” Simone said, which was actually easier with the smaller groups in place early on.
As a community, he said, technology was embraced, with virtual activities the order of the day.
“We held regular painting classes and fitness classes,” he said. “We danced and enjoyed music, (and) we got outside as much as possible.”
Clelland said the facility’s goal is to focus on each resident’s whole being, including offering services and programs that touch on overall well-being, independence and enrichment.
Likewise, he said, the company seeks to honor staff in some of the same ways.
“We encourage ideas and feedback from every member of our team,” he said. “We believe there is a right way to do senior living, and we practice what we preach.”
Simone spoke glowingly of the Senior Living Residences’ approach.
“I can honestly say that I have received more support in the last seven months from SLR than in my previous six years working in the senior living industry,” he said. “I know I can speak for my entire team when I say we feel our efforts are acknowledged and appreciated at all levels of the company.”