Meet April

Employee Spotlight: April
Team Lead at Olentangy River Road

What do you do for Our Family Home?

I’m a team lead for our Olentangy River Road home. I take care of residents, and I manage a lot of the day-to-day activities in the house, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, activities, scheduling and weekly orders. I like to compare it to the things you would do to manage your own house.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I started with Our Family Home in 2013.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I feel like I leave home and come home. Working at Our Family Home feels like home.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my two grandkids and also spend time caring for my mother-in-law.

What have you learned working with residents of Our Family Home?

Patience. I’ve learned to be patient, understanding and calm. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s can take a lot of your energy, but it’s important to realize the residents pick up on how you’re feeling. If you’re ragged and your energy level is low, they will pick up on it. I always try to be in good spirits and try to be upbeat so they feel good too.

Have you had a personal experience with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

I have a close family member who hasn’t been diagnosed but is showing some points of memory loss.

How does Our Family Home give residents and families more good days?

Definitely the one-on-one attention and care we’re able to give our residents and families. Every resident is different and we can tailor our care to their needs. What works for one resident is not going to work for another. We’re able to take the time to narrow things down and get to what they need. We’re also able to interact with family members. Just like if you’re at home and have family members stop by, we’re able to talk with them, listen to any concerns and put them at ease.

For Us, It’s Personal

Many of our residents come to Our Family Home from unsuccessful situations in other care centers, and often begin to show improvements after joining Our Family Home. When we look at the common threads that help our residents improve, we realize it’s because for us, it’s personal.

Dementia care is the fastest growing segment of assisted living and we continue to see growth among larger, corporate-owned entities. While some individuals do alright in these settings, we find that our residents thrive in an environment that’s more personal.

Personal Experience

Evan DuBro with his Mother

Our Family Home was born out of personal connection to memory disease. Evan grew up around Alzheimer’s disease, caring for his grandparents, who had the disease, and later his mom. After his mom’s diagnosis, he realized nothing like Our Family Home existed. It sparked an idea for a new level of care.

The format of converting residential houses into smaller, safer and more familiar homes for individuals with memory disease originated from his experience, as well as his formal education in senior care management.

Evan also knew that successful care needed to go beyond the right environment. It had to include a commitment to forming a well-trained and committed care team. Equipping the employees with both personal and professional training opportunities would be the key to attracting and keeping staff that cared about the residents.

Our Family Home believes in giving employees the tools, training and techniques to be able to provide high level care for residents and take better care of themselves. We need to invest well in our people, so they invest well in our residents.

Personal Connection

While personal experience has contributed greatly to the foundation for Our Family Home, the guiding principle of the organization is really connection and livelihood. With a 5:2 resident to caregiver ratio, our staff is afforded the opportunity to spend meaningful time with residents. Often time our caregivers will refer to this as being able to get in their moment.

Being in their moment means putting aside your own agenda and focusing on what our residents need at that time. We don’t enforce a strict daily schedule because we realize that not all people adhere to the same schedule. Some of our residents are early risers while others prefer to get up later. We want to create an environment that relays consistency and familiarity.

This mindset also empowers our caregivers to focus more on the needs of each resident depending on where they are in the disease. We focus on what each person can reasonable do rather than setting expectations for a group that may be unrealistic for some. We’re also able to reconfigure our days, our tasks and our expectations based on how things are going each day or hour.

Being a caregiver is personal. It can be strenuous and emotional, but it’s also something we do because we care. At Our Family Home, everything we do – from the layout of our homes, to investing in the right training for our care teams, to engaging with our residents and their families – is because for us, it’s personal.

Driving & Dementia: The Road to Staying Safe

Driving is an important part of daily independence. However, for individuals with age-related changes or neurological conditions, driving capabilities may be compromised. Discussing driving with your loved one can be difficult but if done early, the outcome can be more promising.

Marybeth Cartmille of OFH (far left) with Meredith Sweeney of OSU Wexner Medical Center and Michelle Crum of the Alzheimer’s Association

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting “Driving and Dementia,” as part of the Alzheimer’s Association education event series. Meredith Sweeney from The Assistive Technology Center Occupational Driver Rehabilitation Program of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center talked with attendees about the Occupational Therapy Driver Rehabilitation program and the benefits of early intervention. She also shared advice for building a driving plan for individuals affected by dementia and other memory-care diseases.

Sweeney is one of only about 350 occupation therapists in the United States and Canada to be a ‘Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist.’

Sweeney points out that in the early stages of dementia you should begin the process of developing a driver retirement program. Studies have shown that if the dementia driver helps make the driving retirement plan, they are less likely to be depressed when they must finally give up their driving independence.

Building a Driver Retirement Program

Some people can be alright to drive for a short time after diagnosis, although Sweeney suggests people with memory disease should consider a driving evaluation annually.

To participate in the program through the OSU Wexner Medical Center, participants will need a referral from their doctor.  Once referred, the appointment takes about two hours.  The first hour includes a consultation, vision screenings, thinking skills, reaction times and additional in-office evaluations. The second hour includes a driving analysis using a modified OSU vehicle.  Drivers are analyzed first in a parking lot, then residential area, commercial area and on a highway.  The occupational therapist shares the results throughout the appointment and will ultimately help you create a driving plan.

If a driver is deemed unsafe, their team will help you make a plan for public and other transit options. Many public transit options have direct routes available if you qualify under their medical conditions’ provisions.

There are also ride sharing options, including Go Go Grandparent that allows you to order an Uber or Lyft ride for your parent from afar and then receive regular text alerts about their ride and when they have arrived at their destination.

If you are concerned about a loved-one’s driving, here are the top three items to watch for:

  1. Speed: Are they going too fast or too slow?
  2. The most common accident is making a poor decision when making an unprotected left turn (meaning there is no stop light).
  3. Look at your loved one’s car: Are there dents or scratches that can’t be explained? Many people with memory disease are unaware that they hit items while operating their vehicle.

For more information about driving and dementia or to learn more about the program, visit https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/physical-therapy-rehabilitation/rehabilitation-driving-program?utm_source=brochure&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=phre_drive_rehab_brochure

Why I chose memory care and my mom didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease

“My mom was never officially diagnosed with memory disease. I believe her memory loss was more a factor of age and a head injury from previous falls versus a disease,” shared Gene Utz, whose mom, Gertrude, was a resident at our Bramblewood house in Cincinnati.

Gene recently shared his story with us, including why he chose to move his mom to Our Family Home after unsuccessful experiences with four other senior living providers in the area.

What was it like trying to find someone to care for your mom? 

Until you’re in the situation of looking for care for an aging family member, you don’t realize the nuance that goes into finding the right place. There are so many options and it’s challenging to understand what you’re going to get for the money you’re spending.

What was your initial impression of Our Family Home?

It was astounding. Not just the layout, which was much easier for my mom to navigate, but the level of care. There is no comparison when you have two aides to five residents in each home. Honestly, it’s so out of balance with anything else you will find out there.

Why did you choose Our Family Home if your mom wasn’t officially diagnosed with a memory disease?

Hands down, the level of care. At first, I questioned whether my mom would thrive in a memory care center. I wondered if she would have enough engagement and interaction if she was surrounded by people with severe memory disease. But, she did. There was a mix of residents at different stages of their disease, which allowed my mom to interact more easily with her peers. The staff also kept her busy – they would talk with her and keep her busy with different activities.

What was it like after you moved your mom in to Our Family Home?

I could finally stop worrying. When my mom was in other centers, I was so worried I would get a call that she fell. After almost five years going from place to place, I could finally relax and know that she was in really good hands.

What advice would you give someone currently looking for care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease?

There are so many places, and it’s extremely confusing. The biggest thing to look for is the level of care. You just can’t beat the 2 to 5 ratio. Unlike larger, corporate-owned centers, the caregivers at Our Family Home are able to adjust to the needs of each resident. The range of services and availability is off the charts. It’s impossible for another facility to do what they do. They can’t provide this level of care. It’s mathematically impossible.

Meet Latasha

Employee Spotlight: Latasha Smith
Assistant Lead Caregiver

What do you do for Our Family Home? 

I am an assistant lead caregiver for Our Family Home in Cincinnati. I help provide care for our residents.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I have worked with Our Family Home for almost a year.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy caring for the residents, spending time interacting with them and putting a smile on their face. I also like the people. From Evan and the management to our families and team, it feels like we’re a family. I appreciate how we work like a team.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Outside of working at Our Family Home, I enjoy helping others and being with my daughter.

What have you learned working with the residents at Our Family Home? 

Working at Our Family Home, I have learned that each day is different and that I need to take it one day at a time. I’ve also learned communication skills and working hard to try to make every day a good day.

How does Our Family Home give residents and families more good days?

I think Our Family Home gives residents and staff more good days through our ratio. With two caregivers to five residents, we have more time to spend with residents. We’re able to go above and beyond to make residents happy. It’s also in the activities we do – monthly decorations, birthdays, celebrations – and doing what we can for our residents and their families each day.

Stephanie Deaton Recognized among Cincinnati’s 2019 Health Care Heroes

Congratulations to our very own Stephanie Deaton, LPN, on being recognized as a finalist for the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Health Care Heroes. We are so proud to see Stephanie recognized for her tireless commitment to our residents, their families and her staff.

Stephanie has more than 20 years of experience working in long term care, including with seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. She joined Our Family Home two years ago as Home Operations Manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations for our Cincinnati homes.

When we asked Stephanie what she enjoyed most about her role at Our Family Home, she shared the following, “The relationships with our residents, families and staff. Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect the residents.  It affects everyone. I want the residents and their families to know they are not alone in their journey.  This is what I love most about the Our Family Home concept: we are able to provide individualized care for each of our residents where they are in their journey. Because of our 5:2 resident to caregiver ratio, our staff truly is dedicated to doing what we can to make better days for all.”

The Health Care Heroes awards honor individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of health care in Greater Cincinnati through medical expertise, research and innovation, management skills, entrepreneurial initiatives, community outreach and patient care.

Congratulations, Stephanie!

Recognizing Our Residents

Master Sergeant James Williams (retired) is a resident at our Miami Hills home in Cincinnati and was honored this week for his service in the United States Air Force.

Our partner, Carole Quackenbush from VITAS Healthcare, set up the meeting between the former Chapter President of the Tuskegee Airmen, Mr. Leslie Edwards, and Chief Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force James Shaw (retired).

James was delighted by the flag ceremony and now has his flag and certificate proudly hanging in his room.

To top off the great day, they brought James his favorite to enjoy…cheesecake!

Our goal is to always recognize our residents for their achievements and this day was especially meaningful. As they folded the flag, they recited the 12 points of folding the flag:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

Meet Hope

Employee Spotlight: Hope Sparks, LPN

What do you do for Our Family Home? 

I am a house manager for Our Family Home. I manage three homes in Columbus and oversee resident care, staffing, training and many of the day to day needs of our residents and caregivers.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I worked for Our Family Home from 2014 – 2016 and recently rejoined the organization full time in December.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The residents. I enjoy seeing them grow in our care. Our residents often come to us from an unsuccessful situation. In many cases, we’re able to see them improve after they join us. I also love seeing how comfortable they are in our homes. It’s home to them. We have individuals graduating from hospice and living beyond their doctor or their family’s expectations. I’ve worked in different settings and the care changes when you have this level of staffing.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Spending time with my family, including my husband, four children and grandson. I also enjoy traveling, reading and walking with our two dogs.

What have you learned working with the residents at Our Family Home? 

I have learned that this disease can touch anyone. We’re seeing younger individuals with this disease. It makes me grateful every day. I’ve also learned that our model and the level of engagement with our residents has a real impact. Everything from one-on-one and small group interaction to communication to personal connectedness. We’re able to take the time they need and really reach them. It’s not about activities. Many of our residents can’t participate in things like bingo, but they can hear the book I’m reading, the music that’s playing or the words we’re singing. They smile when we are holding their hand or when they smell the lavender lotion we’re putting on their hands. We make them feel important.

Have you been impacted personally by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?

My grandmother, who was one of my favorite people in the world, had dementia. I learned so much from her. Not just about the disease, but about caring for seniors. She was also an LPN and part of the reason I went in to nursing.

How does Our Family Home give residents and families more good days?

More good days is about more than meeting the needs of residents – feeding them, hydration, nutrition, and basic personal hygiene. It’s about really engaging with them. Making sure they feel important, loved, secure and comfortable. It’s about connection.

Failure-Free Activities

In a survey of caregivers, more than 90 percent of respondents expressed that their biggest challenge was finding recreational activities that kept cognitively impaired individuals engaged in meaningful activities. As part of our training at Our Family Home, we have established a comprehensive program of ‘failure-free’ activities, which we will be presenting soon in partnership with the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association’s First Friday.

When you’re caring for someone with memory disease, finding a variety of meaningful activities can be challenging but the results of this type of engagement can be incredibly beneficial. According to Marybeth Cartmille, Our Family Home’s Director of Marketing and Admissions, “We offer ‘failure-free’ activities, which means each activity is adapted in some way to meet the needs and capacity of individuals with memory loss. We want to create a situation where they succeed.”

The goal of ‘failure-free’ activities is to create a situation where the individuals involved won’t fail and instead reap the benefits of moment-to-moment satisfaction and increased self-esteem. Marybeth and the team at Our Family Home have been leading ‘failure-free’ activities in respite care groups during the Alzheimer’s Association’s First Fridays for more than three years.

“Our staff is well-trained to care for individuals at all stages of memory disease, so this is an important way for us to give back. We’re able to use our experience to provide a short period of rest for caregivers and active participation and engagement for seniors,” added Marybeth.

There are a few general guidelines to follow when choosing activities for individuals with memory disease:

  1. Focus on activities that are simple, repetitive, stress free and realistic for the current stage of the disease.
  2. Relate the project to work or life. Often individuals with memory disease believe they are a certain age or in a certain period of life. Try to connect activities to where they are.
  3. Avoid tasks that require new learning, abstract concepts or complex materials.
  4. Be creative. A lot of regular activities can be easily adapted. Reduce the number of steps, simplify the rules or shorten the time period.
  5. Have fun. Smile, laugh and keep it light.

If you’re interested in learning more about First Fridays or would like to register, you can call 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/centralohio.

Meet Wellan!

Employee Spotlight: Wellan
Team Lead at Tonti Drive

What do you do for Our Family Home?

I am a team lead at our Tonti Drive home in Columbus and provide care to our residents. I help our residents get ready for the day. I make breakfast, engage in activities throughout the day and socialize with them.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I have been with Our Family Home for five years.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy taking care of our residents and working with our families. Alzheimer’s is hard, particularly for families. It’s not easy to understand sometimes. I try to help our families and let them know we can handle this. That we can do this together. We want to help them through this disease too.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family. I have two boys and we enjoy bowling, movies and being together.

What have you learned working with the residents at Our Family Home?

The number one thing I have learned is to be patient. You need to be patient when you’re working with an individual with Alzheimer’s. I can’t just say let’s get up. I need to be patient. To give them time. I care for our residents the way I would want someone to care for me or to care for someone I love.

How does Our Family Home give residents and families more good days?

We want to make our residents happy and we do what we can to help them. One of our residents used to be an engineer. We asked him if he wanted to put a group of pipes together. He began putting them together. He smiled and he remembered.

This company has made me who I am today. Since I started working at Our Family Home, Evan has been there for me. He kept saying you got this. You have a big heart and you can do this. I’ve learned the most important thing about any job is the people you work with. How people treat other people. At Our Family Home, it’s a real family home.