Need influenza and pneumonia vaccines, guidance with developing a simple will, tips for cooking for one, exercise classes geared toward seniors, help with applying for utility assistance, and a crash course in technology to learn how to FaceTime with grandchildren? Siena Village and Summer Hill residents only need to step out of their apartments and amble down the hall for all these services – and more! The Christian Health Care Center affordable and fair-market senior-housing apartment complexes in Wayne, NJ offer an extensive, complementary, and voluntary Service Coordination Program for residents.
“We are mission-driven, so we are committed to addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our residents,” says Laura Koblitz, Resident Director of Siena Village and Summer Hill. “Service Coordination Programs are government-mandated for certain types of senior communities, but not for Siena Village and Summer Hill. We chose to establish the program to foster health, healing, and wellness by promoting independence and autonomy.”
The Service Coordination Program provides information, services, lectures, resources, and referrals in relation to health, nutrition, financial and legal assistance, Passaic County services such as the Senior ID Program, transportation, and emotional guidance. Each complex has a designated Service and Activity Coordinator.
Resident need dictates what programs are offered. Information is cultivated through a variety of methods, including floor meetings, social interactions, staff observations, family inquiries, staff observations, and voluntary health assessments.
“Through health assessments, we learned that 59 percent of Siena Village residents have high blood pressure,” says Karen Clemente-McAleer, MSW, Siena Village Service and Activity Coordinator. “We worked with The Valley Hospital to set up monthly blood-pressure clinics at which residents can get their pressure checked and speak with a nurse about general health matters to promote a healthier lifestyle.
“We also coordinated with Valley to establish monthly blood-draw clinics. One resident needed blood work before a doctor’s appointment, but couldn’t get it done in time because of transportation issues. I assisted her in changing the appointment so that she could attend the blood-draw clinic here and also provided transportation options in case her children were unable to take her on the rescheduled date.”
An extremely valuable component of the program is providing resources pertaining to financial-assistance options, such as farmer’s market vouchers, Meals on Wheels, transportation services including Access Link and Passaic County Para Transit, free seasonal housekeeping services, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Universal Service Fund, both of which assist seniors with energy bills. The Service and Activity Coordinators are available to help residents submit applications for these programs.
“One resident moved to Siena Village from another independent senior community because she heard that we do so much for our residents. I’ve helped her sign up for farmer’s market vouchers and LIHEAP. I’ve also helped her with medical paperwork that she needed for insurance purposes,” Ms.Clemente-McAleer says. “Each time I help her she tells me how much easier her life has been since she moved here and how grateful she is for my assistance.”
Through establishing relationships with residents, the Service and Activity Coordinators fine-tune the program to better equip the seniors to age in place.
“One resident who regularly attends activities was absent for several in a row. I checked on her, and learned that her aide who helps her shower and get dressed was out on medical leave for a few weeks and she was having difficulty finding a replacement,” says Susan Matyiku, Summer Hill Service and Activity Coordinator. “I provided information on other home-health agencies. She found another aide and resumed participation in our activities.”
“Living here is all about caring in every sense of the word,” says Siena Village resident Barbara Hagan. “The staff truly cares for and about residents.”