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Considering a senior-life community? Here are eight essential questions to ask.

Considering a senior-life community? Here are eight essential questions to ask.

Lifespans in America are increasing, and consequently so, too, are senior communities. Selecting one for you or your loved one may seem overwhelming, but with research and answers to essential questions, such as those below, you can find the right community.

 What is the organization’s mission?

An important factor to help narrow your selection is a community’s mission since it offers valuable insight into the approach to care. The mission should align closely with your own attitudes and beliefs.

“To some organizations, a mission statement is just a group of words transformed into a work of art and framed to adorn a lobby wall,” says Douglas A. Struyk, CPA, LNHA, President and CEO of Christian Health. “Our mission here is health, healing, and wellness for all ages. These are words we live by and a faith that reflects them. We take our mission seriously, and we take it to heart. Our mission has a profound influence on Christian Health from top to bottom. It has guided all of our actions and the delivery of care every single day for 109 years.”

What level of care is needed?

The right fit requires the right level of care. Consider health status and activity. Is assistance needed with tasks or activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing? Is a health condition present which will most likely worsen over time?

“Honest answers, personal preferences, and a realistic view are essential to selecting the optimal senior residence,” says Steve Dumke, LNHA, FACHE, Executive Vice President and COO at Christian Health. “Here, residence options exist for every level of care: independent living, pre-assisted living, assisted living, skilled nursing, special-care skill nursing, and memory care.”

What pandemic safety precautions are in place?

A senior community should have strong and proactive measures in place to keep everyone – residents and staff alike – safe and protected during this pandemic.

“At Christian Health, we exceed not only our own standards, but also guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey Department of Health,” says Michael Doss, Senior Vice President and Chief Facilities Management Officer. “For instance, we sanitize all flooring every day with an EPA-registered and hospital-grade disinfectant. We utilize UV cleaning. All staff is screened every day upon arrival. We even disinfect campus roads and parking lots with a cleaning solvent.”

Is the community recognized on state and/or national levels for quality?

Local and state health departments license and inspect certain levels of senior-care communities. Some residences, however, voluntarily seek recognition for exceeding prescribed standards of care.

“Last year, we were extremely humbled and excited to be recognized as a Gold – Excellence in Quality Award recipient by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) for superior performance in the long-term and post-acute care profession. Christian Health was the only organization in Bergen County and one of only five providers nationwide to be recognized with this prestigious award,” Mr. Struyk says.

Additionally, Heritage Manor Nursing Home commands a Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is recognized as one of the Best Nursing Homes in America by U.S. News and World Report. The Longview Assisted Living Residence has attained Advanced Standing status from the Health Care Association of New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Health for nine consecutive years, and Ramapo Ridge Behavioral Health (RRBH) earned Disease-specific Care Certification for Dementia from The Joint Commission for a second two-year term. RRBH is the only hospital in New Jersey and one of only four in the nation to receive this distinction.

Do residents have access to higher levels of care?

Some communities are solely for independent seniors. Others offer only assisted living or long-term care. Those which offer a continuum of care offer unique benefits.

“Two of the greatest benefits for residents of our Christian Health communities are the opportunity to seamlessly transition to a higher level of care right within Christian Health, if necessary, and access to inpatient and outpatient short-term rehab on campus,” Mr. Dumke says.

Is the organization diverse?

A diverse community energizes residents and staff, cultivates interactions, and boosts engagement and inclusivity.

“While our 109-year history roots Christian Health with a Christian foundation, we maintain focus on exemplary care excellence which welcomes and serves those from a rich spectrum of diversity, and cultural and spiritual backgrounds,” Mr. Struyk says.

Is the organization for-profit or non-profit?

The majority of senior communities, especially long-term care facilities, in the U.S. are for-profit entities. The allocation of resources for care are impacted by return on investment and a better bottom line.

“What sets Christian Health apart from other senior communities is its non-profit status,” Mr. Struyk says. “Funds are invested back into improving the organization and enhancing the quality of life for our residents, patients, clients, and consumers through nourishing body, mind, and spirit.”

Can you see yourself living there?

If you are the individual helping a senior find the right community, be empathetic. Put yourself in his/her shoes. Can you envision yourself living there?

“I visited other senior communities, but knew that Hillcrest would be perfect for my mother,” says Janice Tuohy about Christian Health’s pre-assisted living residence. “I like Hillcrest so much that I would move here.”

Christian Health offers a personal one-to-one concierge service to discuss senior-life options and individual needs. Contact (201) 848-5200 for more information.