Highland News Leader

Know Your Neighbor in Highland: Faith Countryside Homes

Baby-boomers, who are now the seniors in our society, have caused many long-term care facilities to rethink their accommodations, rules, procedures and practices.

Research shows that era of young people, who have now become the elderly, did not leave their free-living lifestyles behind and are not nearly as complacent as previous generations, thus placing new demands on nursing homes and staff.

But it seems Highland’s Faith Countryside Homes, FCH, is attempting to meet as many needs and wants of its residents as possible, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological. Even food preferences are honored.

One stark contrast upon entering is the absence of the all-too-familiar nursing-home odor. Also missing are the sounds of moaning and groaning from the faces of those staring endlessly into space. Nursing facilities are now packed-to-over-flowing with men and women, fathers and mothers, who were once young, vibrant and active.

But now, due to aging and the infirmities that accompany that process, they have been removed from their own cozy surroundings and privacy to what might seem like an institutional setting. Who would not rebel? And what son or daughter would not be laden with guilt?

Just because a person ages does not mean they lose their preferences which affect their senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Marketing and Admissions Director LaShonda Walker said one of the main reasons FCH has attained so much success at keeping their residents happy is “because we are intentionally overstaffed.”

Additionally, just as all babies do not mature at the same rate, so the elderly do not deteriorate exactly the same. Therefore FCH has taken special care to house individuals according to their current needs and conditions.

Dr. James Skiberski, MS, CMC, said in “Today’s Geriatric Medicine,” “Skilled care facilities, personal care and continuing care retirement communities, along with the many challenges those facilities will face with the delivery of the care baby boomers will not only require, but also demand change. The boomer cohort, accustomed to being trendsetters throughout their younger lives, will continue whether or not they age in place. While the list of suggested concerns is not all inclusive, it attempts to make the point that ‘it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile’ — i.e., baby boomers are not traditional patients.”

He added, “Baby-boomers in these facilities are in greater numbers than ever before, the objections will increase in intensity, requiring changes and ways care is provided. The transition can be successful if providers anticipate and respond now to boomer’s needs, desires and a list of must-have‘s rather than simply reacting to their unhappiness and dissatisfaction later.”

Providing care with dignity, compassion

The mission of FCH, a non-profit organization established in 1978, is to provide care with dignity and compassion. A 62-bed skilled nursing facility, a 14-bed memory care center and a 36-unit assisted living section provides residents with multiple options should their needs change. Their mantra: “Creating a Place of Healing, Heart and Home.”

Walker said each unit has its own dining room where residents’ meals are served restaurant style by their dietary staff. Residents have a personal choice of entrées and sides. For those with unique nutritional restrictions, special diets are available. She referenced one resident who wants only grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Yet another wants only oatmeal for breakfast every day; they accommodate their preferences.

It has been said humans are the only living entity which contemplates its own demise. While this may be true, one thing is irrefutable: We usually enter this world bald, toothless, needing a diaper and dependent on others for basic needs — many times humans depart this world in the same condition.

Walker referenced this as being one of their major motivators to maintain dignity for every single resident.

“We don’t want their aging process being expedited by being unhappy,” said Walker. “We recognize and accept that every resident is an individual. Some are social and some are not; we respect this.”

Many activities planned for residents

In addition to their frequent themed parties, FCH provides field trips, events and entertainment, birthday parties, bingo, pet therapy, socials, holiday celebrations, church services, cooking and sensory activities.

Other amenities include satellite television, internet availability, telephone, transportation, laundry services, in-house podiatry, a barber and beauty shop, Doppler studies, and in-house optometry and ear cleaning and flushing.

A quick glance at the facility’s monthly itinerary reveals residential board meetings, dice-bowling, Alpine stretches, brain quests, making slime, baking, making wreaths, bean bag, tic tac toe, balloon ball battle, waffle fun, interaction with toddlers and pets, inter-generational group, back nine detectives, table games, nail therapy, shark trivia, movies and popcorn, sing-alongs and sensory group therapy.

Sue Overby moved her mother to FCH and had high praise for the facility. At the time of this interview in August, Overby said hospice had just been called in and that her mother was terminal.

“I had my mother in a different place before here and I wasn’t satisfied. I moved her here and I’ve not worried since. I know she’s getting the best possible care,” Overby said.

Though most rooms are private or semi-private, with an actual wall separating areas, Walker recalls a husband and wife couple who were there at the same time.

“We made the necessary arrangements to put them in the same room,” said Walker.

One thing is certain, if someone lives long enough, he or she will more than likely become dependent and need assistance. For the younger generation who cannot possibly grasp this concept, it might behoove them to visit a long-term care facility and see for themselves what their future might look like.