Notes from Nate: 125 Years of Honoring Our Core Values

Each January we celebrate the lives of our residents who have reached the milestone of 100 years of age or more with our annual Centenarian Luncheon. While it is always one of our most beloved events, this year the celebration took on an extra layer of meaning. 2024 is also a milestone year for St. John’s as we mark our 125th anniversary of an incredible legacy that stretches back to 1899.

In the hundred years that our celebrated centenarians have lived on this earth, St. John’s has continued to evolve and grow. By taking a look at our history we can see the development of our core values: Friendly, Respectful, Responsive, Compassionate, Fun, and Innovative — which have flourished in our most recent history.

One area where St. John’s continues to innovate is with technology. Some of our greatest technological innovations in care are seemingly simple. Our dementia team utilizes robotic cats and dogs that look, move, sound, and most importantly, feel like real pets. The comfort that can come to a distressed elder who interacts with one of the robots is breathtaking. A person’s love for animals does not diminish with time or age. This technology is the perfect option for many of our residents.

Just like the comfort of pets, music has the power to positively impact the lives of those living with dementia and add the element of fun. Simple music players are designed for ease of use and durability. We can individualize playlists for residents and upload favorite songs to the devices for easy listening.

Some innovations in care are more complex and allow us to be more responsive. In our rehabilitation gym, we now have a Virtusense VSTBalance machine, which uses AI and machine vision to identify mobility deficits in older adults. Data are captured to analyze a resident’s gait as he/she moves, walks, and stretches. This technology helps our physical and occupational therapists better interpret the needs of the residents in our rehabilitation and skilled care settings.

Other advancements have had an even deeper impact. During the pandemic, communication tools like iPads for video chatting and Speak2 Alexa devices for voice-activated calling helped combat isolation. These digital connections were all that was possible at that time, but their use and applicability have continue beyond the pandemic as we improve accessibility for residents and their families. They also show respect for the different preferences in how they communicate best.

Whatever their purpose, one thing is common among all of these highlighted changes: enhancement. Thinking back to one of our centenarians, who was born in 1919. The many life-enhancing improvements to care delivery that happened across her 105-year lifespan prove that change is possible. Without a doubt, innovations will continue to emerge in the future. It is our job as leaders to pursue advancement and be open to change so that we ensure the best outcomes for the aging community. This is how we can continue to demonstrate compassion.


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