Children, the elderly, and the disabled are often not made to live comfortably without special plans in place for their consideration.
How these plans are implemented are a different scenario from the mechanisms employed in multifamily communities, such as condominiums or co-ops.
The proactive approach is the choice one central Florida property has used to create a desirable planned community of 1,183 residences. Oakstead in Central Pasco County, north of Tampa, is comprised of single family homes and condominium ‘villas’ scattered over nine separate gated villages. Park Director Nancy Intini overseas the common pool, clubhouse and recreational areas of the decade-old development. Originally developed with county bond funds and set up as a Community Development District (CDD), Oakstead is not unique as Florida developments go. In addition to the CDD, there is a community-wide HOA, and each individual village has a specific HOA. The layers of government and division of responsibility keep Intini on her toes, but she is well-versed in safety and security at every level.
“Residents enter the clubhouse and pool facility with a personalized ‘thumbprint’ identity system,” she says. “Residents must sign guests in and accompany them during the visit.” In addition to the adult pool, there are tennis courts, and sports fields. A playground and children’s pool were developed for the youngest residents with careful attention to safety features. The shallow children’s pool has easy ramp access to benefit all children, regardless of physical ability, and the playground has a heavy application of rubber mulch to cushion spills and falls. The public does not come and go on a regular or uninvited basis, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.
Brenda Cassato is executive director of Senior Information Resources, which provides services to those in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg area. Pan and CARES are just two of the resources Cassato, a baby boomer herself, uses to help educate seniors, caregivers, and interested community members.
One way Cassato assists COAs and HOAs in identifying and managing safety concerns for seniors is by arranging local health fairs in conjunction with area hospitals. In addition to health screenings, Cassato makes sure there are classes on resources such as preventing falls, safe cooking, and transportation options. She is an advocate for the “Phone a Friend” program, an all-volunteer operation where seniors and shut-ins receive a call daily, at the same time every day. If there is no answer, there is a set protocol to follow to ensure the resident is indeed safe, or to arrange for any and all emergencies.
Cassato also stages “roundtable discussions” for communities and has had as many as two hundred residents and concerned family members attend. She assembles experts from elder affairs and related fields such as Medicare, home health, nutrition, attorneys, and financial planners. “Residents can have concerns answered in an easily accessible, user friendly environment.”