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Enhancing Care Through Deep Knowing

Mrs. L., a resident at Sarah Neuman, The New Jewish Home’s Westchester campus, was visited regularly by her husband. “He came religiously every day to help walk with her and care for her,” according to Miriam Levi, Assistant Administrator. “So it ripped him apart when we closed our doors in March because of COVID-19.” But, thanks to a person-directed care model, adopted six years ago by The New Jewish Home, Mr. L. was able to maintain frequent contact with his wife during the pandemic even though he couldn’t visit like he used to.  “The staff worked out a way he could come to a fence in the garden and see her, and he could call every day and be comforted by the fact that he was talking to someone who really knows his wife — her habits, likes and dislikes. That’s a big plus for residents and families.”

Inspired by the Green House® Project — a non-profit that builds small, home-like skilled nursing communities — the care model is built around three tenets: creating a real home for residents; empowering staff and training them in “deep knowing” of the seniors they care for while building a meaningful life for everyone in the home. “At Sarah Neuman,” Levi explains, “we operate Small Houses where seniors live in intimate groups of 13 with dedicated staff to care for them. That allows us to easily replicate the “real home” feeling. For example, knowing that someone likes to sleep with the light on or prefers certain foods or wants their bed made a certain way … It’s all about making our seniors feel they are deeply known and loved, just like in their own homes.”

Making it all work day to day is an empowered staff of caregivers who receive intensive training in the philosophy and practices of “deep knowing”. These caregivers, numbering about 30, are called adirim — a Hebrew word that means noble and majestic. Meet adir Elaine Ellis, who has been at the Westchester campus for 31 years. Having worked in a more traditional nursing home setting for many years, she is enthusiastic about the Green House model of care: “It’s more intimate. You have more of a rapport with the residents you care for. You can spend more time with them.”

Instead of rotating shifts as in a traditional nursing home, the adirim work as a team, setting their own schedules and covering all shifts themselves, so there is always staff in the house who knows the residents intimately. “Residents and adirim become like a family,” says Levi. As an example, Ellis describes how, in the cozy and modern Small House setting, residents might sit in the wood-paneled den relaxing by a fireplace next to the open-style kitchen as she prepares a meal. “They can smell and see the food cooking and participate if they’d like. We get to talk and have fun with them.”

When the pandemic began, “deep knowing” was more crucial than ever, particularly for residents with dementia who could not always articulate their needs. Ellis explains:  “Someone might not be showing symptoms — a fever, say — but working with them day-to-day you could see a difference, and even when they couldn’t tell us what they were feeling, we could say to the supervisor ‘I think Ms. L is coming down with something.’ ”

If patients got sick and had to be moved to a different unit during COVID-19, they continued to receive the individualized care that is the hallmark of the model. “The adirim still cooked the food they liked and sent it over,” says Levi. “This kind of individualized care meant the world to family members, like Mr. L., who even when they could not come and visit, knew their loved ones were being well cared for. These are deep relationships; they felt very connected. It was beautiful.” 

Through Rehabilitation Therapy, Dedicated Clinicians Help Post-COVID Patients Recover

When Shelby was admitted to The New Jewish Home for short-stay rehabilitation after being hospitalized for COVID-19, she felt fearful and anxious. She needed extensive assistance for everything—she couldn’t even tolerate sitting in a wheelchair. By the time she was discharged, she was independent, able to care for herself and walk without any support.

Continue Reading Through Rehabilitation Therapy, Dedicated Clinicians Help Post-COVID Patients Recover

Making Spiritual Connections During COVID-19

Residents and patients at The New Jewish Home have always appreciated chaplaincy visits. During the pandemic, however, these visits evolved to provide deep emotional and spiritual care to meet the needs of our older adult clients. Each year, in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary, The New Jewish Home helps train chaplains by hosting students in our Clinical Pastoral Education Program (CPE). We are one of the few nursing homes in the country to offer training to chaplain interns, and the only one accredited in New York State by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education as a training site for this crucial work.

Continue Reading Making Spiritual Connections During COVID-19

What’s Next After 51 Days on a Ventilator? A Dedicated Team of Rehabilitation Therapists

Larry Kelly is probably one of the best-known COVID-19 survivors in New York City. Larry, who retired a few years ago as the assistant principal of a high school in Harlem, contracted COVID-19 while performing in a dinner theater in Fair Lawn, NJ. The whole cast of the play got sick. A New York Times profile of Larry, published in July, reported on the 51 days he spent on a ventilator in a drug-induced coma, first at Mount Sinai Morningside and then at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, before he arrived at The New Jewish Home.

Continue Reading What’s Next After 51 Days on a Ventilator? A Dedicated Team of Rehabilitation Therapists

IN MEMORIAM Fred Richman 1922-2020

The New Jewish Home mourns the passing of Fred Richman, beloved husband of Rita Richman and father and father-in-law of our supporter Jim (Great Neck) and Elissa Richman.

Fred was a successful business entrepreneur who developed Richloom Fabrics Group, a family run textile company, into a multi-faceted global firm. Together Fred and Rita, avid art collectors, collected Greek, Roman and Middle Eastern antiquities in addition to work from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Indian oceans, manuscripts, jewelry and architectural fragments. They endowed the African Art department and a curatorial position at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and are responsible for the Art of Island Southeast Asia Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were grateful to be able to honor Fred and Rita in 2015 at our Eight over Eighty Gala. Please watch this wonderful short video from the 2015 gala about Fred and Rita’s life as art collectors par excellence.

Reuniting Families, at a Safe Distance

One day in early July, Peter and Susan Day drove to Sarah Neuman, The New Jewish Home’s Westchester campus, to visit Peter’s mother, Virginia. It was a trip they’ve made many times before, but this time it was different: they hadn’t seen her in person in months, and she had been very ill with COVID-19. Though they had video and phone chats with Virginia since she’s recovered, it was hard not to see her in person.

Continue Reading Reuniting Families, at a Safe Distance
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