In the United States, the 65-year-old and older population is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050. These seniors will need more services than are currently available. And perhaps more important, they also bring expectations: a desire that their senior years should and can be lived to the fullest.
At Hebrew SeniorLife, we are committed to honoring the wishes of our elders. In fact, honoring and respecting our seniors is rooted in our 108-year history and in our mission.
As I look back on 2014, I am extremely proud of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and the accomplishments that have furthered our mission and prepared us for the future.
While some nursing homes have struggled financially and others are closing, HRC remains committed to providing the best services possible to seniors and their families at all stages of their lives. Our team launched a new initiative called “Culture Change” that empowers those we care for to live all phases of life on their own terms. Our long-term care communities are built around our residents. Our staff believes in delivering person-centered care; forgoing the traditional nursing home practices that did little to give residents the quality of life they deserve. We’re continuously asking ourselves: Have I made a difference in a resident’s life today?
I’m especially proud of the HRC Boston team for their role in helping to meet the needs of seniors in the neighboring community of Brookline when it was announced that a nearby nursing home was closing. Now, 24 seniors from the former Coolidge House are calling HRC their new home. They and their families are applauding our efforts, with one family member saying, “This is heaven.”
Senior care organizations will need to attract and mentor dedicated geriatric care specialists. I can boast that we have some of the best at HRC. My health care leadership team recruited two seasoned experts this past year, Scott Ariel, Executive Director for HRC at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham and Matthew Russell, M.D., Medical Director of HRC’s Rehabilitative Services Units. They both possess qualities that make them role models for how care should be delivered to older patients and long-term care residents. These qualities include superior communication skills and decision making in team-based settings.
While HSL provides care to its residents and patients at HRC, it also offers a variety of programs for seniors who choose to remain in their homes. Our continuum of care, which includes everything from adult day health to home care, is what sets us apart from other senior care organizations.
Earlier this year, our Adult Day Health Program, which serves seniors living in the community, celebrated 20 years of providing services. We were honored to have Emily K. Shea, Commissioner, City of Boston Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, serve as Keynote Speaker at an educational program for health care professionals.
And I don’t want to forget to mention HSL’s Hospice Care. In partnership with Boston’s Jewish community and brought to fruition through the vision of staff and generous donors, Hospice Care was widely launched to the public in February, 2014. Hospice care marks an important step in the continued growth of HSL’s community health services, and serves as a prime example of how HSL works collaboratively with the Jewish community to meet the needs of seniors.
And our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association provided us with a number of ways to reach individuals who need help with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Clinicians learned about HSL programs at the Map Through the Maze Conference and consumers learned about HSL at events including The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. These are great events and it’s heartwarming to see the level of engagement from HRC staff with the Alzheimer’s Association. We’re truly invested in caring for this population and under the leadership of Elaine Abrams, Program Manager for Alzheimer’s Care, we’re already planning some new programs for 2015.
The role Hebrew SeniorLife’s Health Care Services and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center plays in Boston’s health care community has never been more important. We provide the expertise necessary to retool the delivery of care to older patients in such ways as to reduce costs, while improving quality.
I am looking forward to working not only with our partners in the health care community, but also our volunteer leadership and donors to offer innovative health care for seniors well into the future.