The Comforts of Home

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On August 3, Carillon had an open house to showcase their new facility in Mint Hill.

The only one of its kind in Mint Hill, it will begin moving residents in on Tuesday. According to Sara Bigsby, Executive Director, “We are only going to move a handful of people at a time. That way we can get to know each individual and make sure we tend to his or her needs before adding more.” While this particular facility is new, Carillon has been providing senior care for more than 40 years. “Because of that history, we know how to care for those who can no longer care for themselves.”

Ms. Bigsby took visitors on a tour of the facility, pointing out various features regarding comfort, care, stimulation, and fellowship. Ms. Bigsby said, “We encourage families not to bring a television. That way, the resident has more motivation to leave their room, if possible. We have found seniors are more satisfied with a life that has a social aspect.”

In order to facilitate this social goal, she showed us not just the individual rooms, but the media center, the craft center, and the plant potting tables where seniors can be kept busy while becoming friends with others. There is an outdoor patio with several tables and chairs, where residents can gather with their visiting families There are single rooms, double rooms, and a two bedroom suite setup for those who need or want more space.

Jennifer Moore, Regional Directions Operator, was on hand to tell everyone about community involvement. “We encourage school groups, scouting groups, and civic groups to volunteer their time at the facility.” Part of Ms. Moore’s job description is to be a liaison among residents, families, and the community at large, and to enhance relationships. “We would love to have outside organizations partner with us to help enrich the lives of our seniors.”

Director of Dining Services, Bill Furnas

Director of Dining Services, Bill Furnas, talked to the audience about the need for nutritional food. “Before they come to a place like this, many seniors have a dinner of cheese and crackers, for instance. They cannot, or do not wish to, cook a meal. But when they come here, we are aware of their dietary needs, such as low sodium or diabetic, and we strive to make those meals taste just as good as any other. If a resident does not care for what is on the menu, we always have a backup alternative. There is a three meal, three snack plan to keep seniors’ appetites satisfied. “ Furnas said, “You can tell if someone is eating well because they are more active. If someone is barely eating, that can be a red flag that we will be sure to look into.” He added, “I tell my kitchen staff, ‘Don’t deliver disappointment.’ In other words, make each dish not only delicious, but also presented in a pleasing way.” Furnas supplies feedback cards for seniors to use if they have changes they would like to see or to simply give feedback on how much they liked a certain food choice. “Those compliments, that’s what makes my job worthwhile.”

Carillon strives to present a “light, bright homey feeling,” as Ms. Bigsby put it. The pale yellow walls reflect the sunlight, and a comfy “living room” atmosphere (including framed pictures of the residents themselves—just like home) adorn the book shelves and end tables. An open fireplace, able to be viewed from both sides, connects the lobby from the lounge. “For some people, this will be their last home, and we want to make it a good one—no sterile institution feel. “she said, then went on, “There are sometimes people who come in with no loved ones, and then we become family to them.”

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Kathy Shepler
I was an English professor at The University of Akron, Ohio before retiring and moving to Charlotte last year. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and my masters in education. Along with writing for The Mint Hill Times, I tutor in English and do book editing. I live in Mint Hill with my husband and am involved in a number community activities.