Family Expresses Gratitude for the ‘Blessing’ of Mom’s Care

Earlier this month, we received a touching letter from the family of a resident at St. John’s Home about their experience over the past 14 months. In the spirit of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Family Caregivers Month, and Hospice and Palliative Care Month , and with the family’s permission, we would like to share this letter as a testimony to the positive impact an engaged, compassionate staff can make in the lives of long-term care residents and their families.

Carolyn Rosica, with her children Dan, Sue, Christine, and Michele

My mother is Carolyn Rosica, a resident at St. John’s Home on the Tulip Neighborhood (2nd floor of Hastings building).  She has been a resident for just over a year and 2 months.  Mom lives with Alzheimer’s, COPD, CHF, and Kidney Failure– all in advanced stages. There are 4 of us adult children– 2 of us live in Rochester, two are out of town.  My husband is a healthcare administrator and has run hospitals in many different states, so I have been around several hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.  My sister Sue works for The Eden Alternative. Together, Sue and I are our mother’s healthcare proxies. With our mom, we chose St. John’s for our mother because of the reputation and The Eden partnership.  Our mother’s care is very important to all of us.

So many times in healthcare, it is so easy to point out the negative.  However, I wanted to take the opportunity to give you a firsthand account of our experience with Hastings 2 staff.  These people have made such a difference in my mother’s life and care.  My mother’s condition worsened this past week, and my family all gathered to spend time with her, and she has been placed on hospice.  Not only were they open to us being with our mom, they went above and beyond to make sure we also had anything we needed to make our time together comfortable.  They treated us as if we were all Hastings 2 family.  I was with my mother every day last week and witnessed so much love and care on that floor, not just with my own mother, but all of the residents.   My mom was greeted every morning with hugs, love, and respect.

Carolyn and Michele during a recent “Music with Mike” activity

Wednesday (October 31) brought tears to my eyes to witness the excitement that the Halloween parade brought.  Although my mother did not participate, I did go out to the hall to see the staff interacting with residents  – it was phenomenal!  Face painting, costumes, gathering and excitement – I could actually see that the staff loved these residents and wanted to make them happy and have a fun time.  I can’t say enough the impression this made on me.  And by the atmosphere, I knew this wasn’t an isolated incident.

As my mom gained a little strength later in the week, we wheeled her on walks through the building and even attended “Music with Mike”– a great activity!  Nathalie in the Business Office recognizes my mother every time she passes by, calls out her name, and takes the time to chat with her.  Kathy at the front  desk at the Hastings building does the same.  Even the woman that does my mother’s hair in the salon every Friday morning went out of her way to come up to her room after hearing my mom wasn’t doing well, to check in on her.   The caring for mom reaches far beyond our family, that is evident.

As an adult child, it is difficult to place your parent in a skilled nursing facility.  It is even more difficult knowing they have Alzheimer’s and knowing they are not fully aware of their care.  Sheila O’Brien and her staff bring security to my feelings of leaving mom.  Sheila has a wonderful open door policy and I can call, email, or walk in and talk to her at any time if I need advice or just have questions.  I love how she can joke with us and just “gets” our family.  I love how my mother, with Alzheimer’s, looks forward to Sheila coming in to say “good morning” to her.  One time I walked into her room and found Kathy “Pinky” sitting with mom, settling her after she had spilled her cocoa all over herself. She was frustrated and embarrassed, and Pinky simply eased that frustration for her, calming her, tenderly.  My mom lights up when Pinky enters the room.  Lisa just pops in to check in and to get a smile out of mom.

Carolyn with AmySue Ras at Oktoberfest celebration at St. John’s Meadows

I also want to mention Kelly Stenglein, mom’s social worker. We would be lost without Kelly! She is there for us at any time for support and to guide us through this phase in mom’s life. And AmySue Ras, well, my mom just adores her. She is fun and bubbly and gets my mom to join in activities and makes St. John’s a fun place to be for her.

I live 3 hours away and it is difficult to leave my mom.  Every single time it gets harder. I miss her terribly and with every visit there is a little less of mom and a little more of her Alzheimer’s. But witnessing the staff on Hastings 2 in action has eased any concern I have for her care. They have been a blessing in both mom’s life and ours. I cannot say enough about them.

Many people go to a job every day. This staff gives me hope. They inspire me to see that skilled nursing does not need to mean a traditional “nursing home.” They love and care when it could just simply be a job they go to. They choose to make it better for residents.

My mom was married to the love of her life, and she is a mom, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, a sister, and a friend. She may not remember it, but we remember for her. The work that is being done on Hastings 2 allows her to carry herself with the dignity of everything she was in life. That is incredible work.

I do wish more children having to place their parents would have the experience we have had. That experience is the direct result of the community Sheila has created, nurtures and inspires.

Thank you so much.

Michele Manzer

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