New Respite Care Ministry to Begin at St. John’s

Christina Joyce, executive director

By Susan Shinn Turner

In August, St. John’s is beginning an exciting new partnership with Trinity Living Center: a half-day, group respite program called Trinity Living at St. John’s.

This program is designed to offer caregivers a break, while providing loved ones with a wide range of activities, according to Christina Joyce, executive director of Trinity Living Center, which provides adult day care at its facility on Martin Luther King Drive.

“This is a step-down from adult day care,” Christina says. “It will fit the bill for someone who is still physically capable, but has cognitive impairment — a spouse or parent you cannot leave at home for a few hours.”

The program is for adults, ages 60 and older, in the early stages of cognitive memory loss, as recognized by family members, says Carolyn Byrd, former director of Senior Adult Ministry. A physician’s diagnosis is not necessary, she says.

The Pit — the lower level of the Faith Center — will house the program. Lauren Vordenberg serves as program manager, and the program will also rely on a cadre of volunteers.

Trinity Living at St. John’s will take place 9 am – 1 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (the program will not take place on Tuesdays because of the Senior Academy), and will follow the same schedule as Trinity Living Center. Cost for the program is $30 per day and includes lunch, snacks, and all activities.

Carolyn and Christina stress that volunteers need not have a health care background, only a heart for helping seniors.

“You might be helping pass out items, lead a game, or call out Bingo,” Carolyn says.

The morning may find participants playing games to focus on brain building, such as search and find activities, or figuring out how many words they can find in the phrase “Merry Christmas,” or discussing current events or doing active movement activities, Christina says.

Lauren Vordenberg, program manager

No medical care is given during the day, says Diane Poole,

St. John’s new Director of Senior Adult Ministry. “This is a social as opposed to a medical program.”

The volunteer to participant ratio is 6:1, and Diane hopes to develop a pool of volunteers who can serve each day.

Trinity Living at St. John’s is open to the community for both participants and for volunteers. Training sessions for volunteers will take place this summer.

This is the first group respite program in the community, Christina says. “We want to grow this to other churches that are interested.”

Christina says she’s been interested in developing this program for several years. A recent conversation with parish nurses convinced her that the time was right. She sent a mailing to Lutheran churches in Rowan County, and St. John’s was the first to respond.

“St. John’s responded almost immediately,” Christina says, “and that was very exciting.”

“Pastor Rhodes and I thought it was a great idea,” says Carolyn, who spent her career as an emergency department nurse. “We have space in the Youth Center that is used a lot, but not in the mornings. It was just a great opportunity to partner and provide a service for the community.”

Diane adds, “It’s a wonderful outreach and a wonderful service opportunity for volunteers, and it’s a much needed service.”

If you would like to volunteer for or enroll in Trinity Living at St. John’s, please call Christina Joyce or Lauren Vordenberg at 704-637-3940.