First Community Village offers residents a personal path to wellness

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Jackie Metro, Director of Wellness at First Community Village, teaches a tai chi class for residents in December.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – When Dale and Glinna Fretwell arrived at First Community Village in September 2014, Dale was in bad shape.

“He got a blood infection in Florida,” Glinna recalled. “He was in bed for so long, he just lost his muscle strength. When he left the hospital we went to a rehab center. We were just very unhappy there.”

Natives of Virginia, the Fretwells had retired to Florida many years before. But now, with Dale’s illness, the difficulty of being on their own – and in a facility that did not meet their needs – made life particularly hard.

One of their daughters suggested that they consider moving into a community closer to where she lived in Columbus.

“There were four or five places that she visited,” Glinna said. “She has two little boys that came with her and she would ask them what they thought of each place. They told her First Community Village was their favorite. She asked them why. They said because they had candy at the front desk. It’s the little things that are important.”

In addition to the candy, First Community Village had the support services the facility in Florida was lacking.

“We put (Dale) on a plane in Tampa and we brought him straight here,” Glinna said, sitting just outside the physical therapy rooms at First Community Village. “The difference here is night and day. We hadn’t been here 30 minutes when a physical therapist came in and gave him an evaluation.”

“We offer a wellness assessment and we look at each new member holistically and determine their individual needs,” said Jackie Metro, the Director of Wellness at First Community Village. “We work specifically on whatever their needs for improvement are and work to get them to their optimal level of fitness.”

Dale spent about three months in physical therapy before he was able to get back on his feet and move into the manor home the Fretwells purchased.

“This place practically saved my husband’s life,” Glinna said. “He is so thankful for the good healthcare that we have had here.”

First Community Village has always had a wellness program, but in early 2016 National Church Residences enhanced what it had to offer.

“We expanded the program,” said Sarah Dalton Ortlieb, National Church Residences Vice President of Rehab Services. “We wanted to do wellness from all the domains, not just physical, but intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental. We wanted to have more comprehensive wellness opportunities for the residents there.”

“I am able to tailor their care and make it appropriate to what they need,” Jackie said. “I like to think of it as a nice cycle. There is always a place for each resident.”

For residents who need the most care there is physical therapy. For those who need less, there are group exercise classes and activities.

“You can go from physical therapy and graduate into a group exercise,” Jackie said.

Between five-to-eight classes are offered each weekday at First Community Village, ranging from aqua aerobics in the pool, balance classes, tai chi, yoga, dance, range of motion classes and classes specifically for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“We are regulars at the gym. We use it three days a week,” said Glinna. “And we love the pool. We use it three days a week. It has kept us walking, literally. My husband has had both knees replaces and I had knee surgery, too.”

Jackie said that since the expanded services became available, she has seen a 45 percent increase in the number of physical therapy visits and a 35 percent boost in the number of participants who come to the fitness center.

“We love it here,” Glinna said. “They care for you and go out of their way to make sure you are as comfortable as you can get.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Napoletan on a mission to end Alzheimer’s

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Ann Napoletan was presented with the “Spirit of Philanthropy” award by Jeff Wolf, National Church Residences Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact, at the organization’s national conference in September.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – It was a bit of a shock when Ann Napoletan’s daughter put a hand on her shoulder during the awards presentation at the National Church Residences national conference.

“I didn’t know why she was there,” recalled Ann, an Treasury Manager at the home office in Columbus. “I thought maybe something was wrong.”

Ann was sitting at a table full of colleagues, who had suspiciously made sure their table was toward the front of the room. Little did Ann know that she was the only one at the table – including her daughter – who did not know she was about to receive the National Church Residences “Spirit of Philanthropy” award from Jeff Wolf, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact.

“I had absolutely no idea,” Ann said. “I was just blown away. Absolutely blown away. I still am.”

From 9 to 5 (and sometimes even longer) Ann crunches numbers as part of the team of accountants who manage National Church Residences’ budgets. But it is the tireless work she does on the side that truly embodies the organization’s “Spirit of Philanthropy.”

Four years ago Ann lost her mother, Marilyn, to Alzheimer’s Disease shortly after her 76th birthday.

“My mom was the most lively, full-of-life person,” Ann said, sitting for this interview on what would have been Marilyn’s 80th birthday. “My daughter doesn’t want to see the words Alzheimer’s or dementia. I’m the opposite.

“I have to know there’s a greater purpose. For me that’s advocating, teaching, writing, helping other families. It’s almost like a second career.”

After her mother’s passing, Ann began a blog called, “The Long and Winding Road” at www.ALZjourney.com.

“The best way I can keep mom’s memory alive is to keep telling her story,” Ann said.

As her writing gained popularity, she was asked to contribute to the online content for organization’s that dealt directly with Alzheimer’s care.

In 2013 she was asked to co-moderate an online support group called, “Us Against Alzheimer’s.”

“This year I launched a non-profit in my mom’s name,” she added. “I had done so much fundraising for other groups, I just wanted to have a little more control of where the fundraising dollars were going.”

Marilyn’s Legacy: A World Without Alzheimer’s is Ann’s non-profit that is focused on not only finding a cure for Alzheimer’s but also providing unique opportunities to benefit individuals currently living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“I know that I’m making a direct impact on these people’s lives,” Ann said.

The fact that National Church Residences made a point to recognize Ann for her work made it a little more special.

“It was a great experience to be recognized,” she said. “To be at a company that cares about things like that … that it’s not all bottom-line oriented. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Ann added that it is because of her experience in facing her mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease that she found her way to National Church Residences in June of 2014.

“I am at National Church Residences because of my mom,” she said. “I was at Nationwide for 27 years. I was in a good place financially and career-wise, but I wasn’t fulfilled at all.”

With a background in treasury, Ann said that it was like divine intervention that the position she currently holds became available at the exact time she felt the need to make a change.

“This treasury job almost fell into my lap,” she said. “This is where I’m meant to be. Even on a bad day, that over-arching mission is still there. I gave up a lot, but I’m so happy here.”

Seniors give warm donations to National Church Residences hospice patients

 

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Clients at National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue in Columbus work on knitting hats and shawls for hospice patients.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Margaret could quickly crochet hats. Barbara spent her free time making shawls.

Before long, their passion and skill with needles and thread began to spread around the National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue.

“It was one winter when we had all the clients together in one room. One lady did hats. One did blankets,” said DeVonne Tucker, a volunteer at in the Center for Senior Health’s Adult Day program. “I knew how to crochet, so some of the things that these two ladies were doing I learned.”

Eventually, several other clients joined in and the casual knitting group became an every-Thursday activity.

Roughly 18 months later, the small-but-dedicated group of seniors pooled together all of the items they made and donated them to be given as gifts to National Church Residences hospice patients.

“This was really unique for the folks at our Adult Day centers to share their time and talents in such a lovely way to brighten someone else’s day,” said Deana Thatcher, National Church Residences Hospice Director. “When someone is in hospice care, anything that can brighten their day is so wonderful. Hospice is based around improving the quality of life for our patients. When they get a gift they weren’t expecting, it brightens their day. And it brightens the day of those who care for them just to see them happy.”

For many years now the seniors at Center for Senior Health Livingston have found ways to participate in charitable programs to benefit their community.

“We started this huge civic engagement program here,” said Terri Napletana, the Site Manager at CSHL. “We let clients pick out organizations they want to donate to. Then we do fundraisers.”

At first they assembled care packages to give to the formerly homeless and disabled military veterans who were moving in next door at National Church Residences Commons at Livingston. Later they raised money to purchase winter coats for the children at a nearby church.

Then came the idea of crocheting hats and blankets.

“My sister was going through chemotherapy and someone gave her a shawl to use while she was getting her treatments,” Terri said. “She said it was a lifesaver.”

DeVonne and Terri organized the group that met every week to make the hats and blankets.

“Some people couldn’t crochet, so DeVonne came up with little dogs that people could make,” Terri said. “In the beginning we would sell the dogs to get money to buy more yarn.”

After a year-and-a-half of work, on June 2 the group donated 11 sets of hats and shawls, eight adult hats, three children’s hats and two lap blankets to the National Church Residences hospice team with a small ceremony at the Livingston center.

“The whole idea of the civic engagement is there,” Terri said. “We want to give back. They love to give back.”

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Michelle Barnhart, Volunteer Coordinator, DeVonne Tucker, volunteer, and Deana Thatcher, Hospice Director, show off some of the items Center for Senior Health clients donated to National Church Residences hospice patients.

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Staff satisfaction soars at Lincoln Village

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National Church Residences Lincoln Village Executive Director Sally Grote (back row, center) and her team recorded the organization’s highest increase in overall staff satisfaction by community this year.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS — A little over a year ago, National Church Residences Lincoln Village needed a helping hand.

The staff turnover rate at the assisted living facility on Columbus’ west side was unexpectedly high and overall moral was heading in the wrong direction.

At the time, Sally Grote was serving as the Assistant Executive Director at National Church Residences Chillicothe campus. But when the organization’s leadership reached out to her to lend a hand at Lincoln Village in April 2015, she was up for the new challenge.

“It’s hard to talk about how it was before, because I wasn’t here,” Sally admits. “We had to work hard to get the right staff in the right positions. It took some time.”

Sally spent two months lending a hand at Lincoln Village. Then in June, she was officially named the facility’s new Executive Director.

“I was definitely worried (about the new challenge), but just personally, I have a certain standard of how I expect things to be,” Sally said. “It’s definitely getting better. There were days where I didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. But now we have the right staff and the right procedures in place.”

After nearly one year on the job, Sally got some exciting news. According to information gathered from organization-wide surveys, staff satisfaction at Lincoln Village had increased by 24 percent in one year – the largest increase by any community in the National Church Residences family.

“We have a really strong leadership team. We worked really hard to establish relationships with everybody here, especially the staff,” Sally said. “We tried to work with the staff to find out what they’re seeing. We’re all together trying to provide quality care for these residents.”

Sally said that embracing National Church Residences President and CEO Mark Rickett’s concept of “shared leadership” has been a key to success.

“Nobody is trying to figure this out alone. We’re doing this as a team,” she said. “Our staff has owned their positions and responsibilities. We foster a learning environment. We’re trying to make our staff successful.”

Sally added that the addition of Lynette Garcia as the new Director of Nursing at Lincoln Village has also been a great help.

“We both started at the same time,” she said. “We had a lot of new staff. Maybe five employees were here before. There was a lot of turnover and we did a lot of trying to find the right people for our open positions.”

In 2016, Sally is happy to report that staff turnover at Lincoln Village is officially at zero percent.

“We have one person leaving in June, but she’s retiring,” Sally said. “We have a pretty good culture here now. It’s family-oriented and is a place where relationships matter. We’re building and growing together. We don’t have all the answers, but we seek to find them.”

Sally credits having a successful first year as an Executive Director to what she learned working for four years under the direction of Chillicothe Executive Director Karen Steinbrook.

“Working under her I learned so much. She’s an amazing woman,” Sally said. “I learned so much about this organization from the Chillicothe campus. It was a great place to learn about all things senior.  They really have it all there.”

“Sally is a wonderful person and leader,” Karen added. “She soaked up information like a sponge. I truly liked working with Sally, and I was sure that she would not last long as an assistant.”

Bonnie and Jane: A Care Guide success story

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Bonnie Dietz, a resident at Birchwood Apartments in Greeley, Colorado, and Jane Schwarz, a National Church Residences Service Coordinator, pose for a photo after sharing their Care Guide success story.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

GREELEY, Colorado – Bonnie Dietz and her friends often gather in the lounge at Birchwood Apartments to play cards.

One afternoon nearly three months ago, Jane Schwarz, the building’s National Church Residences Service Coordinator, stopped by the group to check in.

“The lounge is right outside of Jane’s office,” Bonnie said. “She came out and talked to me for a minute and she said, ‘when you get finished with your card game, I want to talk to you.’”

Jane had a question for Bonnie that, at the time, seemed odd. However, it turned out to be a question that may have saved Bonnie’s life.

“Out of the blue she said, ‘have you seen a urologist?’” Bonnie said. “I thought, what’s going on? I have had a bit of kidney problems along with my diabetes. I didn’t know Jane was interested in this. I knew she knew about it. But I puzzled over it for a while. I thought it must just be something she needs to know.”

What Jane was doing was utilizing Care Guide, National Church Residences’ innovative program designed to create better long-term health care outcomes for our residents.

“Sometimes I pull up Care Guide and just look at what I wrote last quarter and I ask residents if they’re still going through the same things. I ask them, ‘are you still doing this or that?’ Or ‘are you still on the same amounts of this medication?’ Or just, ‘how are you feeling?’” Jane said. “Then sometimes they start telling you more about other things.”

Because of Jane’s question, Bonnie decided it might be time for a visit to her primary care physician for a check-up.

“It did instigate me to call and make an appointment,” Bonnie said. “I went in to see him on Feb. 1. He said my diabetes is fine and my blood pressure is fine. They took some lab work. Then he called the next day and said get over to the nephrology clinic because you’ve got some problems.”

Bonnie went to see the nephrologist – a doctor that specializes in kidney care – and found out some shocking news.

“I went over there and they tested my kidneys,” she said. “They said I was down to 30 percent of my function. Anything below that and you have to start thinking about dialysis.”

Shortly after hearing this diagnosis, Bonnie made an appointment with Jane to help her figure out Colorado’s Food Tax Rebate paperwork.

“I thought I was in trouble. She said, ‘first, I want to talk to you,’” Jane said. “She asked me why I had asked her about kidney disease. I explained that it was one of the chronic conditions that we follow up on in Care Guide.”

“I didn’t know that the Service Coordinator did that,” Bonnie said. “She was so tickled that her question had spurred me to go and see the doctor.”

Bonnie’s primary care physician gave her some recommendations on how to help strengthen her kidneys and avoid having to start dialysis.

Bonnie, who is 83 years old, has lived in a few different senior citizen apartment complexes.

“I was a cook in hospitals and nursing homes when I lived in Kansas,” she said. “Before that we were farmers. We had a farm and raised a family here (in Colorado).”

After her husband of 33 years passed away, Bonnie chose to move into an apartment. It wasn’t until she arrived at Birchwood Apartments, however, that she was introduced to a Service Coordinator.

“It’s really helpful,” she said. “There’s so much paperwork and things anymore that she can help me with. I don’t have a car and have to find transportation. It really is a help to have her here. She provides workshops during the week for different things. Right now there’s a living healthy workshop that comes once a week and we go attend that. It’s a real help.”

Jane said that as a National Church Residences Service Coordinator, it was exciting to see the work she does pay off in such a direct way.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see an action when you’re helping somebody because you don’t see the reaction,” she said. “In this case I did and I saw it come full-circle. It was exciting for me to see that take shape.”

Birchwood Apartments is a 173-resident senior apartment complex that has a Service Coordination contract with National Church Residences. Jane said that when Care Guide was first introduced, residents initially had some questions. But today they full embrace the positive impact it has had on their overall health.

“Just having the discussions with them prompts them to think about their health and more forward and talk to their doctor about it,” Jane said. “Bonnie is really good about advocating for herself and she took some action.”

 

 

 

National Church Residences hospice services continue to grow in southern Ohio

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By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – It’s far too simple of a statement to say that it takes a special kind of person to be a hospice worker.

“It is a service that really touches the patient, as well as everyone around them,” said Sandy Lawhorn, the Director of Clinical Services for National Church Residences’ hospice team at Bristol Village Health Care in Waverly, Ohio. “It not only looks at a patient and their physical illness, it focuses on a broader spectrum of what is going on in their lives. Their social needs, spiritual needs, medical needs. To work in hospice and stay in hospice takes a special kind of personality.”

Sandy has spent 24 of her 31 years in the nursing profession focused on hospice care – the last five-plus year of which have been spent with National Church Residences.

“I feel like I’m blessed with some of the best staff here,” she said. “It is a stressful job. You get attached to the people, and eventually they pass. It’s difficult.”

However, Sandy said that her hospice co-workers have a strong sense of teamwork and pull together to help each other when things become difficult.

“I’ve heard my staff when one person has a rough week and has a lot going on, I’ve witnessed other members of the staff say, ‘Hey, can I see one of your patients for you this week?’ The staff we have is just wonderful. They are so supportive of each other. They understand when a person is going through a rough week and they find ways to help each other.”

When National Church Residences began to offer hospice services in southern Ohio, it was primarily residents who received hospice care.

Today, as the services have expanded, that has changed greatly.

“We are expanding more out in the community,” Sandy said. “We are growing beyond our borders more than we initially had. It is exciting to me to see that we’re growing and reaching out instead of being in the smaller areas that we were in when I first started.”

From Bristol Village, located in Pike County, the National Church Residences hospice team now offers hospice care in surrounding counties including Ross, Scioto, Jackson and Vinton – an area that is home to nearly 233,000 Ohioans.

“About six months ago we were in the low 50s (in number of patients),” Sandy said. “Now, for the last couple of months we have had about 75 patients. We’ve grown quite a bit in just the last few months.”

Sandy said that her staff includes five full-time RNs and three contingent RNs (with two more positions to be filled soon), three full-time aides and five contingent aides, two social workers, a volunteer coordinator, a bereavement coordinator, a spiritual coordinator and two office staff.

They serve National Church Residences facilities and have contracts to serve other outlying nursing facilities and also private patients.

“We are available 24/7,” Sandy said. “If they need pain medicine, if they need a visit, we always have an RN available. We will go to their home or their facility and address that need. If they don’t have a family that is able to visit often, we fill that gap. We take them gifts and play games with them. And we have a great group of vigil volunteers that go and sit with patients when they are in the last one-to-two days of their life.”

The National Church Residences hospice staff can also provide help with Medicare issues, provide necessary medical equipment and even offer bereavement services to grieving family members.

“All of those things are covered at no cost to the patient when they’re receiving hospice services,” Sandy said.

Every six months, the hospice staff conducts a life celebration to recognize clients who have passed away.

“It is a wonderful service, very informal, with a sit-down meal,” Sandy said. “We read each person’s name and light a candle for that person. Any family that is there can share whatever they want to share about their loved one and the staff shares some of their memories, too.”

Unique health care partnership signed to benefit central Ohio residents

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(Dr. William Wulf, CEO of Central Ohio Primary Care, and Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences, sign a joint venture to provide primary care physician services for National Church Residences’ central Ohio facilities earlier this month at First Community Village in Upper Arlington.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio ­– The nation’s largest independent primary care group and the nation’s largest non-profit provider of affordable senior housing have officially joined forces to offer a one-of-a-kind health care partnership.

Central Ohio Primary Care Physicians (COPC) signed an agreement earlier this month to provide primary care services in coordination with National Church Residences’ continuum of senior health care services, aimed at helping seniors in Central Ohio avoid unnecessary admissions and readmissions to hospitals or nursing facilities.

“In National Church Residences we have found a partner that puts the patient at the center of every decision,” said Dr. J. William Wulf, M.D., the CEO of COPC. “Over the last three years we have worked together on multiple initiatives and felt that it was time to formalize our relationship in a joint venture.”

The partnership will focus on National Church Residences “Home for Life” program that allows seniors to live healthier lives in their own homes, reducing the need to enter nursing facilities.

“National Church Residences and COPC are jointly making a commitment in central Ohio to help seniors remain at home,” said Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences. “You might even say National Church Residences’ commitment to high quality and reliable ‘At Home Health Care,’ ‘At Home Assistance’ and ‘At Home Hospice Care’ is a senior’s partner at home for life!”

“True population health will require physicians to partner with organizations that can deliver services to the most frail in our care,” Dr. Wulf added. “This will include care for our high risk patients at home and in non-hospital facilities. National Church Residences is an organization focused on providing the level of care needed to improve quality and lower cost.”

In the agreement, National Church Residences will proactively identify at-risk individuals through the organization’s revolutionary Care Guide assessment system to provide person-centered care planning that tracks interventions and outcomes. COPC will provide primary care and other diagnostic services to help manage a patient’s health both before and after the need for higher levels of care.

“This joint venture with COPC is unique and exciting,” said Ricketts. “While many senior living organizations in the United States have offered primary care services on campus, few have taken the step of partnering with primary care physicians serving residents in the community.”

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(Dr. John Weigand, National Church Residences Chief Medical Officer, Mark Ricketts, National Church Residences President and CEO, and Dr. William Wulf, CEO of Central Ohio Primary Care, celebrate the signing of a joint venture between the two organizations.)