Families & Friends Newsletter August 2021

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St. John’s Named to Long-Term Care Equality Index St. John’s was recently awarded national distinction as a LGBTQ-friendly senior community. The Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI)— the first-ever nationwide assessment of LGBTQ inclusivity and inclusion at American long-term care communities)— named St. John’s as a “Pioneering Participant” on their initial report. The LEI is a national benchmarking tool created by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and SAGE, the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older adults. “We are thrilled to have been named to the LEI Index,” St. John’s Vice President of Skilled Services Nate Sweeney told the Rochester Business Journal‘s Velvet Spicer. “One of the most important decisions older adults

Families Friends

A Newsletter for St. John’s Skilled Services August 2021



make is where to live and for the LGBTQ population, an added stress is finding a place that’s friendly and accepting. From Pride Week to featuring real LGBTQ residents in our marketing efforts to the welcoming culture we’ve created, we are proud of the thoughtful and deliberate efforts we have made to ensure our LGBTQ residents are treated inclusively and that we have culturally competent policies and practices in place.”

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Katie Nau is one St. John’s Home resident that staff and volunteers continuously look forward to seeing around the halls due to her kind nature and friendly spirit. Before moving to St. John’s, Katie had been an avid reader, enjoyed canning foods, and when she had time— would break out her crafty side by knitting or sewing. Unfortunately, some of these hobbies became less possible with age. St. John’s, however, has offered Katie a full calendar of events and activities to keep her and her fellow residents busy.

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Katie and Patty’s Story

Editor/Marketing Coordinator Devin Andrieu dandrieu@stjohnsliving.org

Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Lesinski jlesinski@stjohnsliving.org

Marketing Communications Manager Tom Harner tharner@stjohnsliving.org

President and CEO Charlie Runyon

Vice President of Skilled Services Nate Sweeney

Katie is a frequent attendee at our weekly summer Courtyard Concert series, at picnics, and often enjoys bonding with any fuzzy new visitor with whom she comes into contact; she even recently bonded with a Police Patrol horse.


thank you letter stating, “it was the time of my life to see something like that. I never expected anything like that.” Patty is a frequent volunteer at St. John’s who was matched with Katie for their mutual love of reading. At her first visit with Katie, it was clear to Patty that she was not at all shy and had two main loves: first, her family, with chocolate a close second. Patty enjoys bringing Katie down to the St. John’s Home Gift Shop to get chocolate and sitting to talk with her at events or in retreat spaces throughout the Home.

Katie is also not one who shies away from sharing her sentiments. She recently expressed heartfelt appreciation for everything staff members have done during this tough year, mentioning that she has been “served wonderfully by staff and volunteers.”

Patty began volunteering in May 2021 and quickly became a weekly volunteer with frequent visits to her favorite residents such as Katie. “I love volunteering here and seeing the residents eyes light up when you see them,” says Patty. The connections Patty has been able to make with residents, staff members, and other volunteers are what keep her coming back. Since starting her volunteer journey, she has encouraged others to do the same by telling those around her “to the point of boring them” about how fantastic it has been.

At 99 years young, Katie even had the opportunity to make her television debut when she was featured in our new commercial alongside her companion volunteer Patty Patterson. Katie boasted about her experience in a

Katie will soon be turning 100 and everyone at St. John’s cannot wait to celebrate her at our next Centenarian Celebration. For more stories like this one go to: https://bit.ly/2ORB9ld

Oneida Andujar: A St. John’s Success Story Oneida Andujar exemplifies what it means to be a Shahbaz CNA at St. John’s. Her badge also says “Joy Champion,” a designation given to those dedicated caregivers who were selected to support residents living on St. John’s Beyond Memory neighborhoods. For Oneida, providing personal care is just the starting point. It is also about developing genuine friendships with them. “My job is to make them happy and to bring them joy,” says Oneida. “And to make them know that they are not alone.” Oneida’s approach begins with forging meaningful relationships with those around her. “I was first a dining captain on this floor before I became a certified nursing assistant,” says Oneida. “Having those one-on-one connections with them—seeing the same people every day brought me closer to them.” It was not long before Oneida’s colleagues on the neighborhood took notice of those positive interactions with others that seemed to come so easily to her. Soon, St. John’s offered to cover her CNA training, putting her in a position to provide even greater support to the people she had grown to know and looked after. Now after four years in the Shahbaz CNA role, it is those moments of joy she helps create that stick out as the

most enjoyable part of Oneida’s work. Speaking with her, you can tell that her own happiness is genuinely tied to making others around her feel noticed and appreciated. The idea behind Beyond Memory is to get to know residents on a much deeper level—that helps uncover the pathway towards those joyful moments about which Oneida speaks. Over a cup of coffee, she listens and uncovers hints—like a resident’s favorite activity or music that brings them comfort—which she later uses to create those meaningful moments that are important to everyone. As she looks back at breakthroughs she made with residents, some now years later, a few of the meaningful resident connections she has built truly stand out. She recalls one gentleman who, like her, was of Puerto Rican decent. Others found him difficult to understand, but Oneida connected with him on a deeper level. How did she know this connection was made? “He would smile and just keep talking about his life,” Oneida explains. “All of the smiles and the laughs we had together really mean a lot to me.”

from Nate

Alpaca Visit

Over four years later, Oneida continues to bring joy to those around her while still impressing the employees she works alongside. “She is a wonderful, reliable CNA,” says St. John’s Neighborhood Administrator Wendy Strauss. “Oneida is definitely a St. John’s success story.” View Oneida’s full story here: https://bit.ly/37T5bv1

New Spaces Engage Residents Living with Dementia Finding new ways to engage residents is a constant goal of our direct care team at St. John’s Home. Our newest Beyond Memory dementia care rooms were designed to do just that. The two new spaces were created by dementia specialist Mimi DeVinney and therapeutic recreation specialist Lamonda Robinson, but the vision came directly from residents.

Holidays and Events

Father’s Day Celebration

anything from a small putting green to a work station, a chess area, and more.

The summer of 2021 has been flying by, but it has been great to see milestones of the familiar. Our summer concert series has been filling the courtyard with jazz, rock, big band, pop, classical, flamenco, country, and other joyous forms of music. Floor picnics have brought the tastes of summer to residents with Bar-b-que, watermelon, and ice cream. The soft touch of Alpacas lips as they nibbled food from residents’ hands and the warm muzzles of the stately horses from the Rochester Mounted Police provided the sensory connection that can only come from animals. The Resident Council has been able to meet again after a necessary hiatus, giving voice to concerns and suggestions for improvements. Our next great milestone will be the re-opening of the St. John’s Chapel. Through some generous donations to the St. John’s Foundation, the Chapel has been given muchneeded refresh, including the addition of a hearing loop that has been installed under the floor to assist those who use hearing aids. Our spiritual care team has spent much of the pandemic bringing support to the floors; now we are glad to welcome elders back to a holy space made more sacred through our collective gratitude.

Both spaces feature engaging stations and activities based on what the residents enjoy. The She Shed features all the elements needed for a day of pampering and even a kitchen area where residents can cook or bake with our staff.

St. John’s Dunk Tank

During these times, there have been no shortages of challenges in skilled nursing homes. My heart is full with gratitude for the many staff members who endured these trying times and gave unwavering support to the residents and elders most impacted by them. I try each week to celebrate a Thankful Thursday with the morning announcement; however, in truth my gratitude is abundant each and every day. From the start of the pandemic, we held onto the hope for a better tomorrow when things would all get easier. Many challenges still persist, but we welcome with open hearts the events, connections, and blossoming opportunities to create community through shared memories once again within our walls.

To view photos from these events and more, visit our Flickr galleries here: https://bit.ly/2XGIpim

Doing so while sharing in some fresh summer watermelon, is all the better!

Of course, male residents are more than welcome to join in the fun within the She Shed if they so choose. For those men who prefer other types of activities, the Man Cave features


Lamonda and Mimi found that residents wanted an extra space besides their rooms to get away from the crowd and unwind. From this simple concept, the “She Shed” and “Man Cave” were born.

Since their official opening, the rooms have been a big hit with both residents and families. Lamonda explained that residents have been grateful to take a moment away from larger common areas to enjoy socializing with friends and family in a space other than their own rooms. These new spaces have also helped to spark ideas for new resident clubs such as the Purple Hat Society, which recently met for the first time. A Football Club is expected to blossom in the fall where residents can watch games together and discuss their thoughts or predictions for the season.



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