Category: Newsletter

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.” 

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

How We’re Tackling COVID-19: A Conversation With Our Manhattan Medical Director

Dr. Ruth Spinner, our Manhattan medical director, has been expertly leading The New Jewish Home’s system-wide response to the devastating pandemic since February, tracking the disease in Asia before we experienced any cases of COVID-19 at our facilities. She continues to skillfully guide our COVID-19 tasks force, which brings senior leaders, clinicians and administrators across our system together on a daily call where they proactively plan and solve problems, discuss best practices and analyze the latest guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Though the worst of the pandemic is now hopefully behind us, Dr. Spinner continues to lead with candor and motivation to provide our clients with outstanding clinical care. We asked Dr. Spinner a few questions about her experience and what sets The New Jewish Home apart.

Continue Reading How We’re Tackling COVID-19: A Conversation With Our Manhattan Medical Director

How We’re Helping COVID-19 Patients Breathe and Communicate

When patients arrive at The New Jewish Home with tracheostomies after being hospitalized for COVID-19, their speech, breathing and swallowing are impaired. Our Department of Speech-Language and Swallowing Disorders — known for its excellent care — is dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients like these.

Continue Reading How We’re Helping COVID-19 Patients Breathe and Communicate

She Got COVID-19 on Her 90th Birthday but Beat the Odds

Her name is Elvira, but loved ones call her Vera. A talented woman who raised two daughters in the Bronx, New York with deep faith and willpower, her strength has helped her conquer many obstacles. Recently, her daughters and friends have been awed by her ability to overcome illness, including COVID-19. 

Continue Reading She Got COVID-19 on Her 90th Birthday but Beat the Odds

Training Chaplains to “Be Present”

By Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Spiritual Care and Religious Life

“Are you ready to die?”

It was a simple but jarring question and one that the seminarian was really not prepared for. As he sat with a terminal patient near the koi pond on our Manhattan campus, he knew he needed to answer. But how? The student quickly replied that in his religious tradition, he was taught to live every day as if it were his last.

Continue Reading Training Chaplains to “Be Present”
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