By BETH ALTENA
The recent announcement of the sale of Bishop Hills to Baruch Senior Ministries (see related story, page 1) may be a bittersweet one to Sue Bodenner, but she can leave the facility knowing it is as pretty close to perfect as a senior care home can be. She was recently given the news that the facility was reported as having no deficiencies by state surveyors.
“We certainly consider it a perfect review,” Bodenner said. She said she is under the impression that a perfect review is quite out of the ordinary in such facilities and is understandably proud of the home and the staff.
Bodenner said the annual review includes interviews with residents and staff to get an idea if resident concerns or issues are adequately resolved. The facility, which was built 17 years ago, has a high residency rate and currently has 44 residents and 42 individuals on payroll. Bodenner said she believes the reviews reflect the facilitie’s vigilance to such things as service plans when residents move in. Their individual circumstances, meal preferences, medication, specific needs, and person-centered care giving are all evaluated fully. “No two people have the same service plan,” she explained.
The facility also places a high value on the benefit of life enrichment. “There is a true appreciation on the part of the state that we are focused on purposeful living,” she explained. She said the opportunities to continue to contribute to society are plenty at Bishop Hills and residents show they appreciate those opportunities by a high level of participation.
An example is a United States Navy support project where the residents of Bishop Hills partner with local schools to provide treat bags for Navy service people. She said they have created and shipped over 35,000 bags since 9-11, including over 12,000 homemade cookies.
“We have a special relationship with Meadow Ridge Elementary and their reading team for developmental kindergarteners,” Bodenner stated. She said they have provided over 500 books for the program. “We partnered to find ways to help with the literacy program, which is an all-day program with over eight classrooms of children from all over the district.”
Many of the residents knit scarves or hats for donating to neighbors in need. Interaction from outside the home is also emphasized and local artists are invited to have receptions at the facility to display art and talk about their work. Residents are asked to vote on the work of different artists and the top three earn cash prizes. The receptions are monthly and have been taking place the past 14 years.
Residents are also encouraged to learn new skills, and sign language is one popular among residents. “We had a couple people who were really withdrawing because they were very hard of hearing,” explained Bodenner. Staff began using sign language as a way to communicate with the residents and that lead to classes being offered to those who had an interest.
Bodenner said activities are their own proof of effectiveness. “You can make up a calendar of activities, and that’s nice. When we tell them at breakfast we are going to do cookies for the military, they will be there. You don’t have to knock on doors. If you have to sell an activity, then you haven’t hit the hot button.”
Bodenner said staying “intentionally involved” is a key component to life enrichment and resident happiness. “These are men and women who have been great church volunteers, organizers, they want to feel they can continue to help others.”
Bodenner said Rockford is a good community to be in to allow such out-side the facility partnerships. “What I like about Rockford is the school, the city, the chamber, all the businesses, they all want to be doing the best job they can. It is exciting to be in a community where they excel.”
“I feel Bishop Hills is very blessed to have a staff so dedicated to the residents,” she said. “This isn’t Sue and Jim doing this, it is staff driven to be good caregivers. I’m glad we are a good part of Rockford.”