As we navigate through the second year of a global healthcare crisis—one that is seeing new COVID-19 variants threaten the delicate balance we’ve achieved between face-to-face interaction and safety—the toll it’s taking on our seniors remains a concern. Without socialization and stimulation, our physical as well as cognitive and emotional well-being can deteriorate as we age. That’s why Life Plan Communities that provide these services are taking on more importance than ever.
What Is A Life Plan Community?
A Life Plan Community, like St. Catherine’s Village, offers seniors housing with a continuum of care through their various stages of dependence…from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing and even memory care if needed. An all-inclusive Life Plan Community allows residents to transition from one service level to another while remaining in a familiar environment.
How Does A Life Plan Community Support Senior Well-Being?
Numerous studies have proven that staying socially active supports a senior’s overall well-being by reducing stress and anxiety and lowering the risk of depression, which often stems from isolation. At St. Catherine’s Village, numerous activities and events are available on a daily basis to keep residents engaged with one another. For physical health, the Life Plan Community provides exercise classes along with wellness programs. Support groups also are offered as are chapel services to nurture residents’ spiritual lives.
It Safe To Move Into A Life Plan Community Now?
Yes! St. Catherine’s Village specifically has implemented many additional protocols to help keep residents, staff and family members safe during the pandemic. Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, St. Catherine’s Village adhered to best practices for cleanliness and hygiene as well as implemented strict infection control procedures. Before the start of each flu season, for example, the award-winning community requires not only its staff be vaccinated, but also contract workers and private duty staff. This has garnered St. Catherine’s Village a place on the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) Influenza Vaccination Honor Roll—the only Life Plan Community in the Jackson, Mississippi area to receive this designation.
The Right Care At The Right Time.
While moving to a senior living community is a thoughtful decision at any time, many people are weighing the pros and cons of doing so even more carefully now. Only you can determine if a Life Plan Community is the right choice for you or your loved ones. Be sure to do your own independent research, speak to the experts, and tour St. Catherine’s Village to see first-hand the measures the Life Plan Community has in place to minimize health risks while providing high quality care and much needed social interaction for all its residents.
St. Catherine’s Village has once again been issued accreditation from CARF International, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. This outstanding achievement is an indication of the Life Plan Community’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of the persons it serves.
Effective April 2021 through May 2026, the five-year accreditation acknowledges that St. Catherine’s Village has conformed to a set of internationally recognized standards set forth by CARF. According to survey results, residents, families and staff have expressed high levels of satisfaction with the Life Plan Community, describing a family-like atmosphere. In addition, St. Catherine’s Village’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was swift and well-orchestrated to minimize impact within the Continuing Care Retirement Community. St. Catherine’s Village has demonstrated its ability to grow and adapt to the changing environment and has achieved positive outcomes.
CARF identified the following strengths for St. Catherine’s Village.
St. Catherine’s Village is in a beautiful, pastoral setting in central Mississippi. Established in 1988, the 160-acre campus has evolved to meet the changing needs of residents and staff over the past three decades. The campus is a mixture of both formal and informal outdoor spaces. There are multiple ponds that are used frequently by residents, staff, and (on occasion) family members for fishing and other outdoor recreation. Walking paths are available and accessible for all. Views of the lakes from resident spaces are maximized as much as possible.
All interior spaces at St. Catherine’s Village are light and bright and designed to accommodate the needs of aging seniors. A chapel is available for Catholic and other spiritual services. The stained-glass windows (made by a resident) and the elaborate high-ceiling architecture provide residents, families and staff a beautiful spiritual environment to pray, meditate or attend services; and there is a quarterly celebration of life in the chapel to honor all residents who have recently passed away.
The staff is dedicated to the mission of St. Catherine’s Village. Staff members are committed to providing care and compassion for their residents and described St. Catherine’s Village as a family-like environment. One staff member said, “It is a ministry to many of us.”
The organization’s leadership team is cohesive and enthusiastic about its work. Each member has a firm grasp of the member’s area of expertise and offers up knowledge readily, adding great value to the work of the organization. This was especially evident by leadership’s dedication to the residents’ safety and social well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Introducing enhanced communications for residents, staff and family members; helping residents with virtual visits, in-house parades, variety shows, and grocery shopping services; opening a dedicated COVID-19 wing; and implementing COVID-19 diets were but a few of the innovative solutions used to combat the negative effects of the
Residents appreciate the safety and security provided at all levels of care. The gated entrance is manned 24 hours a day. In interviews with residents, many expressed never feeling the need to lock their doors. The daily check-in for residents living in the garden homes and apartments adds another layer of security for residents and their families.
Residents are highly involved in the life of the community and are supportive of each other. New residents are welcomed through a variety of activities and offerings of food, practical advice, and companionship by existing residents. The Village News, provided by staff on a regular basis, and the Villager, a resident publication, communicate activities and information in a timely manner.
Healthy and delicious meals are served in a variety of dining venues. There is ample space for residents to gather in both small and large groups. Resident feedback is routinely reviewed and acted on by the Food Committee. Catering services are provided for private gatherings, and residents report a high level of satisfaction in these offerings.
Care to residents with cognitive impairment is provided in Campbell Cove, an assisted living facility. Dementia education is provided to staff and residents on a routine basis. Staff do a “journey through life” assessment when residents are admitted to provide care and services that mimic a resident’s normal routine and preferences.
There are multiple settings in which skilled nursing care is provided, including the Hughes Center, which was recently constructed and serves to care for residents in Campbell Cove whose needs exceed what can be provided in the assisted living setting. All rooms have been designed with different levels of lighting to enhance vision and minimize disturbance to residents. Closets are large enough to store adaptive equipment.
Activities provided to residents throughout the continuum by a creative and dedicated staff. While this has been extremely challenging throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, staff has made exceptional efforts to keep residents engaged and connected to family and friends. Support groups have been facilitated through the activities department to address the grief, cognitive stress, and depression that have been exacerbated by the isolation from normal life imposed during this difficult period. Residents and staff are looking forward to a return to getting together to play bridge, bingo, and croquet, as well as to attend club meetings, dine together, and fish in the ponds.
Forty-nine campuses recognized for their exemplary efforts in creating a culture of engagement and satisfaction in their communities, despite the COVID pandemic.
Holleran, the nation’s leading research firm specializing in engagement and satisfaction studies for residents and employees, has announced the recipients of the Choice Community Awards for 2020. Holleran’s Choice Community Award recognizes organizations with strong cultures of engagement. These providers have cultivated an environment where resident voices are heard, connections are rich, well-being is enhanced and personal fulfillment can be realized. Employees are highly engaged, with large numbers of catalysts on campus who embrace culture change, plan to stay with the organization long term and are passionate about the organizational mission and vision. These award-winning campuses are in the top 15th percentile of all campuses in Holleran’s massive benchmark.
“This year has been exceptionally challenging within the senior living industry – which makes the recipients of Choice Community Award all that much more extraordinary,” says Michele Holleran, Founder and CEO of Holleran. “The Choice Community recipients have emerged from the pandemic in spite of the odds, finding creative ways to engage both residents and employees.”
“Engaging senior living communities are fundamentally stronger in collaboration and connection to other residents, employees, the community, and life goals,” remarks Katelyn McCauley, Senior Research Analyst. “During the coronavirus pandemic, these areas all took a backseat to the general health and well-being of the residents and employees. To be a Choice Community this year, these campuses exceeded all expectations and continued to provide a unique and valuable environment focused on the successful aging of older adults, and paying attention to the well-being of their employees.”
Holleran has the largest benchmark of its kind, measuring both resident and employee engagement/satisfaction in the senior living space. Currently, the benchmark comprises more than 200,000 resident and employee surveys, all completed within the last three years. This enables organizations to compare their performance to their peers, whether they are across the road or across the country. Utilizing this extensive body of research, Holleran recognizes the most engaging senior living organizations in the nation.
About Holleran: Holleran is a full-service community engagement research and consulting firm with
offices in Pennsylvania and Colorado. Learn more at http://www.holleranconsult.com.
It’s all in the family at St. Catherine’s Village, where sisters Nancy Gilbert and Carolyn Cooper are following in their mother’s footsteps by living in the all-inclusive Life Plan Community in Madison, Mississippi.
Nancy and her husband Spencer moved to St. Catherine’s Village first. About five years ago, the couple retired to an independent living apartment from Jackson where Spencer had practiced law. They were already familiar with the community because they both had loved ones who had lived at St. Catherine’s Village before. In the early 1990s, Nancy’s mother had experienced multiple levels of care, initially moving into independent living then transferring to Marian Hall assisted living and finally Siena Center skilled nursing. Spencer’s father lived in Siena Center from 2000 to 2002.
“My dad was not here as long as Nancy’s mother—only for about two years in skilled nursing—but the care he received was outstanding,” said Spencer. “We had tried a few other places to accommodate dad’s unique situation and St. Catherine’s Village really was the best.”
“We always knew that when the time was right for us, we’d move to St. Catherine’s Village, as well,” said Nancy, adding that the couple was so impressed by the care their parents had received that they never considered moving anywhere else for their retirement years.
“Our children are far away—one is in Seattle and one is on another continent—so we didn’t have family locally,” she continued. “I became so accustomed to driving from our home in Jackson to St. Catherine’s Village to see my mom that after she was gone, my heart would still lead me in this direction.”
In fact, Nancy started volunteering at Siena Center in 1999, singing hymns at Campbell Cove for residents in memory care. After moving in in 2017, she was able to expand her volunteer work on campus.
Joining her in her musical volunteer work was Bill “Slim” McCulloch, a musician who played for the skilled nursing residents and during happy hours. Born in Chicago, Slim grew up in Washington, DC, then came back to Chicago in the 1960s to launch a career in print journalism. Working in Michigan, Massachusetts and eventually North Carolina, Slim also moonlighted as a blues musician. He met Carolyn, Nancy’s younger sister, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina when they were both in their 50s.
“We hit it off immediately and have been partners ever since,” he explained. “We knew pretty early in our relationship that we wanted to retire to a Life Plan Community but the financial crisis of 2007 pushed out our prospective date to move. After seeing how happy Nancy and Spencer were at St. Catherine’s Village, we took another look in 2019 and realized we could afford it.”
Slim and Carolyn found the right fit in a cozy, third-floor independent living apartment that overlooks one of the lakes at St. Catherine’s Village.
“What appealed to me the most was the beauty of the place,” said Carolyn. “The apartment was completely renovated and is aesthetically very pleasing but I adore the gorgeous grounds—there are 160 picturesque acres and it has a real college campus feel.”
And, she remembered how comforting St. Catherine’s Village was, especially at night.
“When I used to come and visit my mom, then when Nancy and Spencer moved in, sometimes I’d stay in a guest room,” she said. “Walking down to their independent living apartment I always felt so safe and secure.”
Carolyn, a former nurse, and Slim continue to appreciate the level of care they receive.
“We’ve both had medical emergencies and nurses responded immediately—as did security,” she explained. “Everyone was just marvelous and when Bill took a tumble, it was a great comfort to know that such a high level of service is offered.”
Carolyn and Nancy grew up about 40 miles away in Yazoo City, but Carolyn moved away and eventually came back to live closer to her son.
“It has been such a joy to be here with my sister,” she said. “We fought as kids and never dreamed we’d so happily share this stage of our lives.”
“Being a resident here has given us a feeling of security that will carry us right on through because no matter what level of care we need, we know we’ll get it and be well served,” said Nancy.
Madison’s pre-eminent all-inclusive Life Plan Community, St. Catherine’s Village is the first retirement community in Mississippi to earn accreditation by CARF-CCAC. This “commitment to excellence” seal signifies that the campus exceeds the standards established by the only international accrediting body for CCRCs. Living options include independent living in apartments and garden homes, assisted living in Marian Hall, memory care in Campbell Cove and Hughes Center, and skilled nursing in Siena Center and Tuscany.
Continuing Life Care™