So many people have contributed to shaping where we stand today—both in helping to accomplish what we have already achieved and in laying a foundation of experience for the future. This includes current and former residents and their families as well as staff who have worked alongside Karin Krause over the years.
In order to learn from our community members, we have been conducting interviews with residents, their families and caregivers, and family members of former residents. These conversations have uncovered several common themes, confirming our perspective on what Hope & A Future is providing to its residents and community members. Here are three insights:
1) Families of residents have had increased confidence in the care being provided. They found it encouraging to see their loved ones engaged in an intergenerational community. They have been enabled to blossom, reconnecting with their own skills, history and interests, even developing new interests and abilities.
2) Residents experienced increased healthcare-related quality of life.
Intentional, intergenerational community utilizes social connection as a way to improve quality of life, health, and sustainability. Higher levels of social support and connection are associated with better health throughout the lifespan. For optimal well-being, people need to help as much as they need to be helped.
3) The Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood (TIIN) at Hope & A Future is distinct from other programs. It adds unique value to residents and the broader community. Bringing people together from different ages and backgrounds creates a unique mix of talents and resources also known as social capital, where everyone has something to offer. The TIIN helps to promote intergenerational social connections through its built environment and programming. Shared grounds, gardens, and spaces, combined with community meals and neighborhood activities, create a wealth of opportunity for strong bonds to form.
In support of the second and third points above, we have been conducting a review of technical literature, and plan to share more about our findings in the future. In support of the first point, we present the following anecdotes.
Nadine’s daughter Jan told us that, prior to her mother’s move to Hope & A Future, they attended a concert and potluck event here. One of Nadine’s first comments was, “I could live in a place like this.” Jan was looking for a higher and more personalized level of care than her mother had been receiving. After Nadine moved in, Jan was encouraged by her mother’s reports to her that she “got the most wonderful care here.”
Despite significant dementia, during her two years with us, Nadine became more oriented to her room and routine activities and was comforted by interactions with familiar and consistent staff, and by the presence of Charlie, the dog. Jan found that she could easily communicate about any questions or concerns, and that she wasn’t worried about her mother’s care anymore. She also was glad to see her mother living in an active community surrounded by other people who encouraged her involvement in accessible social opportunities.
Margaret’s daughters, Sandra and Kathy, told us that their mother’s health had deteriorated substantially in a nursing home, and that they had been seeking a more individualized care environment for her. After Margaret moved in, they were encouraged to see significant improvements in her health and mobility. They reported that their mother really blossomed at Hope & A Future, becoming a vital member of the community over a six-year period. In addition to her improved health, she developed meaningful relationships with other residents, staff, and volunteers, even finding cultural connection with a local neighbor and volunteer who, like her, happened to be from England.
Sandra and Kathy shared that they love coming back to Hope & A Future, even since their mother has passed away: “I can’t say enough about Rick and Karin and the staff. Just an amazing place. It’s not a facility, it’s a home.”
Betty and Brad
Betty and Brad moved in as new residents in late 2016; a few months later, we spoke with Becky, Betty’s daughter and Brad’s sister. Betty had been primary caregiver for her son Brad, who has Down’s Syndrome, until her own mobility limitations from arthritis meant that this was no longer possible. For a time, Becky and her family, who live out of state, cared for her brother. But having always previously lived with his mother, it was hard for Brad to be separated from her and in a new environment.
Becky says that since the move, her Mom is more at peace and less fearful. Being reunited with her son in a supportive environment has given her a renewed sense of purpose. Betty told her daughter that she has never been cared for so lovingly and that since making some difficult transitions in medications, she feels better and is better able to focus.
Brad has also enjoyed his new community, living once again in the same residence as his mother, and participating in a regular schedule of activities. He quickly formed meaningful bonds with regular volunteers and staff. Becky also noted that Hope & A Future staff have a penchant for being able to see people’s gifts and to know how to get them to use those gifts in a way that improves their quality of life and contributes to the mutual support and encouragement that can happen in a close-knit community.
Karen, a CNA, is a long-term staff member who has been working with the Krauses for over 15 years, and currently also lives at Hope & A Future. Karen feels very close to the residents, stating that “they have become my family” and “we’re grafted together”. In an interview, she spoke at length about how she has seen many seniors improve physically and mentally after moving to Hope & A Future. She also noted that as they adapt to their new surroundings, residents become vibrant and interactive members of the community, a process she describes as “blossoming”. She attributes this to the idea that they “feel that they are truly cared for and they can be themselves.” Karen discussed how activities at Hope & A Future are tailored to the interests of the residents, in order to help them engage more meaningfully in the community.
The Memory Garden
The impact of this community model has extended to residents and their families. As a result of their experiences and memories, several relatives of former residents are still involved with Hope & A Future today, and some of these family members have been helping to plan and design a memory garden in honor of their loved ones. The landscaping and planting work is currently under way; a dedication ceremony is planned for July 8th, and all are welcome!