For many seniors nationwide, 2017 has undoubtedly felt like a year of uncertainty. Here in the Tristate, though, Episcopal Retirement Services has continued to make great strides in improving care for our region's elders. And we've achieved some tremendous successes.
With 2018 approaching, we'd like to take a moment to look back at the past 12 months and reflect on some of those successes. Here are our Top 8 ERS Moments of 2017.
1. Getting high marks on our accreditation inspections
We take seriously our responsibilities to provide safe, effective and person-centered care to our retirement community residents.
That's why we seek out and maintain accreditation with the independent Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) — an internationally-recognized authority on safety and efficacy in personal care homes and physical rehabilitation centers.
This year, we once again passed our CARF inspections. In fact, we aced them. The inspectors were highly complimentary of our communities, our staff and our care philosophy.
After interviewing our residents, staff members, leaders and residents' family caregivers, also after touring our Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee retirement communities, they noted.
- Our residents are happy and living well. Person-centered care works.
- Our suite of memory care services is, in one surveyor’s words, “outstanding.”
- The surveyors were really impressed by our efforts to engage residents in maintaining a culture of care safety.
- Our team members feel like they have a sense of purpose. It shows in the care they provide every day, and in our low turnover rate.
- Our communities are physically well-maintained, with beautiful landscapes, excellent upkeep, amazing dining services, robust lifestyle enrichment programs and first-rate transportation services.
We don't do those things to achieve praise from inspectors, though. We do them because we truly believe that our elders — your family members — deserve amazing care. And we're honored to provide it for them.
2. Being recognized as one of the Tristate's Top Workplaces for the 8th consecutive year
Our team's sense of purpose wasn't just evident to the CARF inspectors. It's consistent with our nearly decade-long run as one of Cincinnati’s Top Workplaces.
Once again, the Cincinnati Enquirer included ERS in its annual report on the best workplaces in Greater Cincinnati, as determined by employee engagement and satisfaction. It was an honor, but not really a surprise.
“It’s no secret, at least not to us, and not to the thousands of terrific older adults and their families whom we take care of every day,” our President and CEO, Laura Lamb, said. “We never tire of telling the ERS story: person-centered care is at the core of everything we do.
3. Receiving tax credit funding to build more affordable senior housing in the Tristate
When seniors have a need, we'll work to fill it. And we know that many seniors in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana need more affordable housing to maintain their independence.
Over the past several years, we've ramped up our efforts to bring more affordable senior living spaces to the Tristate market.
Our footprint extends into Lexington, Dayton, southeastern Indiana and rural Ohio communities like Blanchester and Wilmington.
And we've demonstrated enough competence and forethought in doing so that state and local leaders are helping us to build more. This year, we applied for and were awarded $15.9 million in tax credits, which will allow us to build more Affordable Living by ERS communities and renovate others.
And we'll continue to look for new opportunities to bring affordable senior housing to the Tristate's most vulnerable elders.
4. Setting a record for Meals On Wheels deliveries for the third consecutive year
Our Deupree Meals On Wheels service continues to be a vital, community-based safety link for seniors who are alone and aging in place. And we continue to grow right along with Tristate seniors' increasing need.
For the past two years, Deupree Meals On Wheels has surpassed — smashed, really — its own record for annual meal deliveries and wellness checks performed. In 2017, we did it again with:
- 110,000 meals already delivered
- For the first time, we surpassed 10,000 meals delivered in a single month (August)
Not only did we surpass our volume record, we continued to do so while maintaining strict food safety and quality controls. This year, Deupree Meals once again aced its health inspections:
- 100 percent score on our Ohio Department of Agriculture audit
- Perfect score on our inspection by the Hamilton County Board of Health
- 100 percent score on our Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio audit
And the year isn't quite finished. Keep checking here for the final tally.
We'll continue to fulfill seniors' needs at the local level, even as others seek to reduce funding for senior services and safety net programs. Want to help? Donate or volunteer!
5. Lending our voice to support passage of the Senior Services levy
Back in July, ERS staff members and several residents of our Affordable Living communities addressed a meeting of Hamilton County's commissioners, to voice their support for a renewal and increase of the levy that funds the Tristate's Elderly Services Program (ESP).
ESP supports over 12,000 Hamilton, Butler and Warren County seniors aging in place, who do not qualify for Medicaid, but who also cannot afford to hire help on their own.
Nancy Knott, 72, has been an ERS resident at Maple Knoll Meadows for seven years.
She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 65, which made it impossible for her to continue working. But her Social Security income also wasn't enough to allow her to afford to hire in-home help that would allow her to continue aging safely in place.
With subsidy assistance from ESP, she was able to bring in a personal care aide, who comes to her senior apartment once a week for two or three hours at a time.
The commissioners heard her message — and others' similar stories — loud and clear. They supported not only a renewal of the Senior Services levy, but also an increase.
And voters overwhelmingly agreed with them. In November, 72 percent of Hamilton County's voters chose in favor of the increased levy.
6. Standing against hate
Some organizations put their heads down and don't speak up. ERS isn't that sort of organization.
There is no room — in senior care, in Cincinnati or the surrounding Tristate, or in our nation — for the kind of hate that Americans have repeatedly fought against.
7. Cutting the ribbon on our new and state-of-the-art memory care households at Marjorie P. Lee
This year, we upgraded memory care households at our premier Hyde Park retirement community, Marjorie P. Lee. The renovation and new construction was funded primarily through donor support to MPL's capital campaign.
The Morris Apartments were relocated and augmented with the newest, most innovative memory care therapies available today, including SAIDO Learning, iN2L computer-based learning and our 360 Wellbeing mind-body wellness program.
We also opened a new, second memory care center — the Kirby Household — named for Alberta Kirby, wife of Deupree House resident Jack Kirby, who donated $250,000 toward its construction to advance the cause of finding an Alzheimer's cure, and honor his late spouse's fight against the disease.
With the added services, we are able to offer more customized memory care options to MPL residents who live independently with additional support in their own apartments.
“Residents take comfort in knowing that they’ll be surrounded by a proven team of compassionate professionals who care and will be by their side whenever they need some assistance,” explained Ginny Uehlin, Vice President of Residential Housing and Healthcare.
“We will customize care for the individual, and not just look at the person, but look at the person today, and their potential future needs,” Uehlin said.
8. Increasing our efforts to make Cincinnati an age-friendly and dementia-inclusive city
Our leadership team, staff members and volunteers have been steadfast in supporting Laura Lamb's vision of making our city, and our region, one of the most age-friendly and dementia-inclusive places in the nation.
We've redeveloped, built and will continue to build additional affordable housing for our area's elders.
And we'll keep spreading the gospel about the need for more senior-conscious planning in our region.
2017 was a tremendous year for Tristate seniors and for Episcopal Retirement Services.
And we fully expect 2018 to be another one. We're going to continue doing everything we can to care for our elder residents and improve the lives of seniors in our community.
You can help us, too.
Your tax-deductible, end-of-year contribution to ERS helps to fund financial aid for seniors who outlive their resources, pays for critical, community-based services like Deupree Meals On Wheels and the Parish Health Ministry.
And it's helping us to ensure that the Tristate will be a safe, inclusive place for seniors living well into the future.