A Tale of Three Households
Ocean City, a barrier island known as America’s Favorite Family Resort, sits six feet above sea level. The permanent/non-summer population of under 12,000 has an average household size of two. Contrast that to United Methodist Communities at The Shores, where, in addition to over 162 private senior apartments, three households of 18 residents live harmoniously side-by-side.
Seniors coping with frailty and chronic illness typically spend significant time in institutional, medically-oriented surroundings. To strategically prevail over this industry-wide issue, United Methodist Communities committed to transform that model, and in 2016, opened one sub-acute and two new healthcare households at The Shores.
Like private homes, the everyday ebb and flow of life unfolds in the households’ intimate dining rooms, comfortable living rooms and working kitchens. Above all, resident and associate relationships sit at the center and make a significant difference.
Housekeeper, Missie Taylor, makes sure she sees Shirley every day. Although Missie received a temporary assignment to the households, she liked it so much, she requested permanent placement there. Shirley calls Missie her ‘special friend’ and they frequently exchange news about their adult children.
The two playfully indulge in a game of their own invention — ‘imagination shopping.’ Shirley looks at newspaper advertising and circles everything she wants to purchase. They share the fantasy picks and spontaneously burst into laughter.
Missie, an avid volunteer, church goer and mom of four college-educated children says, “Giving is part of who I am. I tell the residents ‘Have a blessed day,’ and ‘I love you,’ which makes them feel valued.”
To foster positive relationships, teamwork and stability, The Shores’ associates are cross-trained and remain consistent for all shifts. According to studies, associates at small homes are more knowledgeable about residents’ likes and dislikes because of the consistency.
Anna Nicosia, community life assistant, exemplifies that finding. She knows that transforming the household and its culture starts in the smallest of ways, especially by knowing the simple pleasures of residents. Concetta, who came to love Ocean City during many family vacations and later became a resident, often busies herself with her favorite pastimes — word search and puzzles.
Knowing this about Concetta and with a personal penchant for keeping seniors’ minds sharp, Anna reflects, “Almost every morning, I lead games, singing, reading and announcements. Beside outcomes like teambuilding, fun and connecting socially, crossword puzzles, trivia, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud, and jokes, engage residents cognitively.”
Because Concetta and Anna share a love of word games and puzzles, the two have bonded, seek out one another and laugh a lot. Concetta looks forward to seeing her every morning and affectionately calls her ‘Annie.’
In the sub-acute household, Mimi Queen, certified nursing aide, sees Albert staring at his plate with concern. Each day she anticipates the same question, “When will Sylvia arrive?”
Mimi puts her arm around him and reassures Albert that his wife will be coming soon. In response, he dips a shrimp into his tartar sauce.
When Sylvia appears a few minutes later, he lights up, chats with her for a few minutes and with renewed energy, finishes his lunch.
Like the pinnacle of an excellent dining experience, Mimi assesses the situation and then brings Albert his favorite chocolate dessert. He beams, picks up his spo on and digs in.