5 Innovative Programs Add Quality to Life at CCRCs

| April 10, 2015

LeadingAge members are known for their innovative programming, whether they are finding new ways to deliver care to vulnerable older adults, helping residents maintain their health and independence, or creating out-of-the-ordinary opportunities for simply enjoying life. Here’s the latest news about innovations taking place at The Mercy Community, Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Felician Village, La Loma Village, and Carolina Meadows.

LeadingAge members are known for their innovative programming, whether they are finding new ways to deliver care to vulnerable older adults, helping residents maintain their health and independence, or creating out-of-the-ordinary opportunities for simply enjoying life.

Here’s a roundup of news about innovations taking place at The Mercy Community, Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Felician Village, La Loma Village, and Carolina Meadows.

The Mercy Community: Palliative Care Program

The Mercy Community, a LeadingAge member in West Hartford, CT, recently received a $50,000 grant from The Maxmilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation that will help it become one of the few continuing care retirement communities in the nation to offer a dedicated Palliative Care Unit.

The grant will be used, in part, to create a Family Room to support the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of residents receiving palliative care, and their family members, including children and grandchildren.

“We are thrilled by this generous grant … which will enable us to advance The Mercy Community’s reputation as a place of healing, a place of mercy, and a place of grace,” William J. Fiocchetta, president and CEO of The Mercy Community told The West Hartford News.

Hebrew Home at Riverdale: Elderserve at Night

Kaiser Health News recently offered its readers a personal glimpse of Hebrew Home at Riverdale's Elderserve At Night program. The news service described the program “a kind of day camp -- but at night, for people…who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.”

The article followed one family that benefits from Elderserve at Night, which offers respite to family caregivers whose relative with dementia typically sleep during the day and are up much of the night. 

About 40 clients participate in the program 7 nights a week. Activities may include arts and crafts, cooking, yoga or Zumba, and even live performances, says Kaiser Health News.

The nearly 20-year-old program is the brainchild of David Pomeranz, executive director of the Hebrew Home, which is a LeadingAge member in Bronx, NY.

“Here, their behaviors are normalized,” Pomeranz told Kaiser Health News. “Everything is OK. Activities are structured for them to be successful. They eat, they relax—they can be themselves.”

Some private insurers and New York’s Medicaid program cover Eldercare at Night. Medicaid pays $200 per day for the overnight program, compared to $320 per day for a typical nursing home.

Felician Village: Tai Chi to Reduce Falls

Residents of Felician Village, a LeadingAge member in Manitowoc, WI, are turning -- slowly and with grace -- to tai chi as a way to reduce their risk of falling.

Manitowoc County, where Felician Village is located, ranks second in the state for the number of fall-related deaths, according to TwinCities.com. Hospitalizations for fall-related injuries in the county cost nearly $10 million in 2012. Emergency room visits cost more than $2 million per year.

Felician Village has partnered with the local YMCA to offer the tai chi classes to its residents. Jerry Galas, YMCA tai chi instructor and member of the Manitowoc County Falls Prevention Coalition, teaches the class.

Galas is showing participants how to move slowly and deliberately and how to center the shoulders above the hips. The goal is to improve balance while walking, lessen pain and reduce falls. The program is funded by a grant from the United Way.

The program seems to be working.

"Subjectively, what some of them have told me is that they have more motion," Galas told TwinCities.com. "Hopefully it results in less people falling."

La Loma Village: Lifelong Learning

Residents of La Loma Village are learning about urban wildlife and lots of other topics during classes sponsored by La Loma University, a lifelong learning program created by residents of the continuing care retirement community (CCRC). La Loma Village is a Sun Health community and LeadingAge member in Litchfield Park, AZ.

In June 2014, about 15 La Loma Village residents and 4 staff members came together to discuss ways to boost learning on the La Loma Village campus, where more than 175 older adults live. 

During the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters, the program recruited a group of experts who agreed to present classes and talks about such topics as:

  • The Civil War.
  • Colorful characters from Arizona’s past.
  • Poetry.
  • Desert wildlife.
  • Health.
  • Genealogy.
  • Biblical history.
  • U.S.-Russia relations.

Each class draws about 30-40 students, according to the CCRC. Classes fill up fast and waiting lists are not unusual. The program operates with a small budget. Classes are offered at no cost or low cost.

Carolina Meadows: "Downton Abbey" Fundraiser

A love of the PBS series “Downton Abbey” helped residents of Carolina Meadows raise funds for their local public television station -- and gain the attention of The Huffington Post. The community is a LeadingAge member in Chapel Hill, NC.

To support UNC-TV's annual fundraiser, Carolina Meadows residents decided to take on a 3-month photography project that produced an impressive collection of professional-looking recreations of Downton-like scenes. The idea came from residents, but members of the Chapel Hill community donated free costumes and tuxedos. Local photographer Jack Benjamin also lent a hand.

“They spent countless hours trying to get every detail right, even making handmade jewelry and touching up an antique car to match the period,” says The Huffington Post, which published 13 of the photos.

The original photographs were unveiled during a Downton-themed fund-raising dinner for the television station in March.