As you may remember from my last post , elders living in isolation is something that concerns me. Humans often start a new part of their life when they realize that they are getting old and that they are alone. As part of my investigation, I contacted Gail Kass, the President and CEO of NewCourtland Senior Services. Their mission is “providing affordable housing and services for low-income seniors in Philadelphia.” After the interview with Ms. Kass, I learned about the importance of helping others and how wonderful it is to make someone feel like at home.
Ms. Kass said that the first activity that the residents do is start their morning with a warm breakfast in the dining room. Then throughout the day, the residents do activities like play Bingo, got to the nursery room, exercise, work on music and art projects, or stay in their rooms as they wish. The building is divided into two sections with 60 beds in each section. There are double rooms and each room has the capacity of two patients per room, a little setup, beds, bathroom, and a closet Three warm meals are served throughout the day. I asked her: “To what extent did the patients leave the facility ?” She said, “There are three main reasons why the patients would leave our facility and it is to visit their doctors, go on trips, and when the families pick them up.” Ms. Kass said that they often go on trips to the museums, such as, the flower show, restaurants, outdoors, and their favorite place, the dollar store.
This is a picture of seniors eating at a dining room. That’s how it looks like at Germantown Home
I was impressed by all of the amazing activities the staff at Germantown Home do for their residents. It is clearly that Germantown Home is a safe place to live. In my interview, we also talked about how some of the patients had a tough life, a lack of education, and how some don’t have families. As soon as Ms. Kass told me that some of them had a tough life, I asked her “How do you think the majority of patients here feel about their lives? How would you describe their levels of happiness or isolation?” Ms. Kass responded, “They live happily, we provide them with what they need. They feel lucky to be here. Others feel miserable and angry with their lives.” I also asked her, “What was her hope for them?” She said, “Trying to give them a quality life, make them feel as independent as possible, make them feel safe and happy, and make sure they are part of a clean environment.”
After the interview, Ms. Kass arranged a tour for me at Germantown Home. On Monday, March 12th, 2018 at 9:00 AM, I was at the doors of Germantown Home. As soon as I got there, the first thing I noticed was how clean the place was and the odor of the place was pleasant. Ms. Kass told me that the Assistant Home Administrator, Ludmila Kovatcheva, would be taking me on the tour. I met with Ms. Kovatcheva and we sat down, she said the exact same words to me that Ms. Kass had said during the interview. I immediately knew that both ladies are passionate and respectful of their job. We started the tour on the second floor, Ms. Kovatcheva took me to the calendar, which was very specific about the daily activities that were going to be held each day of the month. The activities for that day were dance music and movement, puzzle club, soothing sounds, ball toss, table games, and a hair salon. Also on each floor, they have a command center that has a clear view from the hallways
As we continued the tour, Ms. Kovatcheva took me to the dining room, where the residents were happily waiting for their dance and movement activities. Then, she took me to the nursery room. I was surprised when I went in there. The room was spacious, it was filled with light, it had a fish tank, and a crib with dolls. Ms. Kovatcheva told me that most of the residents spend their time there. The experience was amazing, I loved it. Also, there are kiosks on the walls, Ms. Kovatcheva told me that all of the residents’ activities are recorded in those kiosks. The reason why they have that is to keep a record of the medicines that the residents take, the time they spend doing activities, so if their doctor or family want to see their medical record, it would be available for them all the time.
In the outside of every room, there is the information of both residents. The information talks about their hobbies, family, and about their life before Germantown Home. After I read a couple, I asked Ms. Kovatcheva “What do you do for the residents who loved their careers and that now feel like they are not able to practice them again?” She said that they try to incorporate some of the activities they used to do. For example, if one of them loved horses, of course, they can not bring a horse to the building, but a solution would be to watch a show based on horses.I was really happy to know that they also conduct a therapy with a dog. Studies show that pets can be really helpful for seniors who live in isolation. Living in isolation is something that Germantown Home is aware of, they try to keep their residents as busy as possible. They have a huge program known as the comfort and joy program. The program is allied with kids from the area that come in once a week and create beautiful murals that will decorate the building.
The tour was about to end and I could not leave without asking “How do you guys deal with the death of one of your residents?” It was a really hard question to ask. I was getting sentimental and Ms. Kovatcheva said that a funeral is held as the resident wished. They make a memorial time for the resident who passed away with their peers, staff, and family. As I was heading to the exit, something caught my attention, there was a big blanket covering one of the beds, even when I did not know what was happening, I asked Ms. Kovatcheva, “What was going on?” She said that a lady had passed away that morning.
I left the place and felt really happy to know that there are senior homes like Germantown Home who really care for their residents. I’m not sure what I am going to do to make a change, but for now, I am thinking about bracelets of hope. I will try to give out as many as I can to spread the word that just like kids need from our society, seniors need from our society too.