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Members Show How Faith Impacts Long-Term Care

By Susan Shinn Turner

If you’re a senior adult and have given any thought to long-term care, the time to plan is now. And let your children know about your plans, too, say St. John’s three members who are longtime nursing facility administrators in our community.

Bill Johnson, Mike Menius, and Glenn Terry recently sat down for lunch together at Trinity Oaks Retirement Community, where Johnson is director of operations for Rowan County for Lutheran Services Carolinas. He’s been with Trinity Oaks for 11 years, and in the industry for 33 years, right out of college. Trinity Oaks is a continuing care retirement community.

“You meet the most interesting people,” Bill says. “No day is the same.”

His colleagues concur.

Mike has been with the company that owns Carillon Assisted Living for seven years, becoming its executive director in August 2016. He’d worked in packaging sales for 25 years.

“You remember what happened in 2008 and 2009,” he says. “I just was really looking for something more stable.”
Family members suggested senior care.

“I really enjoy the operations side,” he says. Carillon has 60 residents. “By the time they get to our doorstep, they’re really needing help. It’s a tough bridge to cross —giving up your independence, your home, and your car. We can’t replace home, but we try to enhance your life for the time you have left.”

The same is true at Autumn Care, a 100-bed facility that offers skilled nursing care, long-term care and short-term rehabilitation. Glenn has been its administrator for 10 years. He’s been in the business since 1976, and says the highlight of his work is still getting to know the residents and their families.

“It’s a ministry,” he says. “You have a chance to make someone’s life be the best it can be. We can’t be home, but we make it as most like home as we can. Getting to know and care for residents is our motivation.”

There are 310 residents on the Trinity Oaks campus.

“Staffing is always a challenge,” Bill says, and Mike and Glenn agree. The three have good working relationships with Novant and the local home health agencies, which is a good thing since insurance has become so complicated.

“There are a lot of balls to keep juggling,” Bill says.

Regulations are also a challenge, Mike adds, because nursing homes are the second most heavily regulated industry after the nuclear power industry.

“They can come in any time to look at regulations,” Glenn says, “but that’s part of the profession and we realize that.”

The three say that patient-centered care is the current buzzword — an individual care plan for each resident, with an entire team in place to care for each one.

“We talk about it in our morning meeting,” Mike notes.

And in this profession, maybe more so than others, death is a part of life.

“There are a lot of things worse than death,” Bill says.

“Most of our residents know that,” Glenn says, “but it’s the family members who have a hard time.”

All three facilities provide support for families when a death occurs. There are often memorial services in the Trinity Oaks, and Mike says that Carillon even hosted a service for a resident.

“It was considered home,” he says, “and it allowed our residents to come and pay their respects.”

“One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is meeting our World War II veterans,” adds Mike, whose father served in WWII. “I have met the coolest guys.”

Glenn regrets that he has more administrative duties that take him away from spending time with residents. “That’s frustrating, because that’s why I got into it.”

All three men stress the need to plan ahead, and become familiar with the facilities that are available here. Most facilities have a mix of private pay, Medicaid and Medicare patients, Bill explains. The men suggest learning what these three options pay for — and what they don’t. Long-term care insurance is a great option, Mike adds.

“A lot of times, a parent has a fall and ends up with us,” Glenn says. “The family has no idea what to do and is scared to death. Shop around, because every facility is different.”

And how does faith impact your work? “Faith speaks to everything we do,” says Bill. “The way we treat our resi-dents, the words we use, our message of hope.”

“My work is definitely enriched by my faith,” adds Glenn. “One goes hand in hand with the other.”

“It’s a gift we share with everyone we meet.”

What a beautiful way of connecting faith and life. Together.

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