Alice Angus glides about Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Center with her rolling walker as a guide. Her lithe movements, easy smile and quick wit belie her 97 years.
This wasn’t always the case. Alice arrived at the Manchester nursing facility three years ago on an oxygen tank and expecting to die.
“I was in terrible shape,” she explains. “Then I came here. They got me back to being well again.”
Now, she thrives with new friends, Bingo, dances, and a busy social life. It’s like time turned backwards.
“I just love it here. There is so much to do here and I’m so happy. It’s like one big family,” Alice says of Mt. Carmel, one of seven rehabilitation and nursing centers owned and operated by Catholic Charities New Hampshire. Increasingly, residents who were frail, seriously ill, or receiving palliative care when they entered these centers are flourishing.
“People are coming to nursing homes today to live,” Barbara Gray Corkadel, Mt. Carmel life enrichment services director, says during National Nursing Home Week, which takes place May 14-20.
Nursing centers provide an antidote to the isolation and loneliness that can be devastating to seniors, especially those who live alone. These seniors often don’t get many visitors and rely on others to take them shopping, run errands or even go out for coffee with friends.
“They are very alone,” explains Robin Fortin, administrator of St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dover. “They tend to have that failure to thrive. They give up. They don’t eat the way they should, or they don’t eat at all and lose too much weight, and their bodies go out of whack. A lot of them end up in the hospital with real medical issues.”
“Then they come here. They start eating correctly. They start meeting people. And they’re back up on their feet,” she adds.
Nursing centers offer socialization and mental and physical stimulation that seniors often lack at home. Daily activities, individualized care, and connecting residents who have similar backgrounds and interests play a key role in helping residents thrive, staff say.
“That journey of life still continues. We respect our residents because of the things that they have done in their earlier lives and we continue to support and encourage that,” says Kathy Dager, who is assistant director of nurses at Mt. Carmel.
The whole philosophy of Catholic Charities is “moving lives forward,” she adds. Caring for the elderly and encouraging them to thrive is a wonderful way to move lives forward.
‘They are very alone … They tend to have that failure to thrive. They give up. Then they come here. They start eating correctly. They start meeting people. And they’re back up on their feet.’
Catholic Charities also places a high priority on resident-focused care that involves the entire team of caretakers. Staff build enduring relationships with residents and their extended families.
“Resident-centered care is at the focus of what we do and that’s what differentiates Catholic Charities from for-profit facilities,” says Joe Bohunicky, who is the administrator of Mt. Carmel.
For Alice, her strength and health recovered to the point that she can leave Mt. Carmel and return to live in the community. She wants to stay.
“There is so much going on here. I read and crotchet. I do the puzzles in the newspapers and I do the activities here,” Alice explains. Her impression of nursing facilities radically changed since she came to Mt. Carmel.
“I just thought they were awful places, but they’re not. I love it here,” she says.