An interview with Debra Block, NCCAP (National Council for Certification of Activities Professionals), Life Enhancement Coordinator, 6W Berenson, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center
Debra Block recently joined HSL as the Life Enhancement Coordinator on the newly renovated sixth floor west of the Berenson Allen building on Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s (HRC) Roslindale campus. She has introduced an interactive theater and film program for patients at HRC. I sat down with her recently to learn more about her work with patients and the therapeutic value of theater arts.
Chaplains at Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) are engaged every day in caring for seniors – during difficult times, celebrating the happy moments, and then often again at the end of life. We are called upon by staff when more hands are needed on deck during a patient crisis, and also when staff themselves are suffering and need someone to listen.
At HSL, we have a very special and caring team of chaplains. Two years ago, Dignity Memorial (Stanetsky and Levine Chapels) recognized our work and the individuals on our team with a gift to support learning and self-care. Each year we now hold two half-day retreats and two full-day retreats with learning and reflection, sponsored by Dignity Memorial.
Hebrew SeniorLife’s Multigenerational Program represents an organizational commitment to bringing together youth and seniors to build mutually beneficial relationships at our nine campuses across Greater Boston. Through our 50+ partnerships with local schools, synagogues, and other community organizations, we provide the training and support to develop dynamic connections across generations and redefine the experience of aging.
Here is just one of the many stories about friendships forged through our programs.
Each of Hebrew SeniorLife’s multigenerational programs serves as a key touchpoint for the broader community, engaging youth and their families in learning about the full spectrum of aging and developing relationships with our senior population. Participants in these group programs are often inspired to deepen their connections to the seniors they meet, well after the programs have concluded. One such example involves two families who participated in a guided music program for infants and HRC-Roslindale patients, overseen by HSL’s Adam and Matan Adelson Multigenerational Program.
Amid the flurry of the holidays, a group of community volunteers brought flowers and beams of sunshine to Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale.
In my time at HSL, I have come to value the power of art in our patients’ and residents’ lives. Science backs this up: For example, a recent study at The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York showed that Alzheimer’s patients had fewer emotional problems the week after a museum visit, as well as an improvement in mood, self-esteem and greater sense of social support.
September is the time for students of all ages to head back to school, and students at the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech in Canton have a special program to look forward to this coming year with residents of Hebrew SeniorLife’s Canton community, Orchard Cove.
At any age, gardening is one of the best activities we can do outdoors. It stimulates all the senses, awakens our connection with nature, and rewards us with fresh flowers and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Chris Alburger is the first person to be named the LGBTQ Chaplain Resident at Hebrew SeniorLife. The position, funded through a generous grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, represents the first time a clinical pastoral education (CPE) program has educated a chaplain resident specifically for LGBT senior care.
It’s no secret that getting out and about can become harder with age, especially for seniors with complex health conditions. But this doesn’t mean that meaningful recreation has to go out the window. At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC), staff from Life Enhancement, Nursing, IT, and the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) have come together with volunteers and family members to help launch a creative solution to this dilemma.
As Americans we are all connected to the rich history of our nation, and Black History Month gives us the opportunity to honor the particular contributions African Americans have made to our uniquely American culture. We celebrate their achievements and recognize their central role in U.S. history.