Silverbrook Manor builds ‘barn’Published 5:58pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Silverbrook Manor connects with the past so residents feel whole and at home.
That’s why the nursing home at 911 S. 3rd St. built a small red barn for its developing quality of life program.
“A lot of them used to be farmers, so they can relate to being on a farm,” admissions director Robin Lovely, formerly of The Timbers of Cass County in Dowagiac, said of the rustic tableau anchored by the barn patio tables overlook.
“Ministering to the wholeness of our residents includes meeting biological, psychological, social and spiritual needs, which will be the chief aim of the quality of life program,” director Blake Ringenberg, son of owner and administrator Roger Ringenberg, said Wednesday.
“My goal is to bring a clinical perspective in looking at people, who are multi-faceted, complex and layered, and begin peeling them back to find out who they actually are. When someone is depressed, we don’t just put them on medication. If someone has issues with feeling bored, lonely, angry, stressed or tired, we identify those things and make a bold effort to try to meet those needs.”
With a fulltime, in-house, licensed clinical mental health coordinator to monitor 77 residents’ overall satisfaction level, individual counseling sessions and small group psycho-educational meetings for residents with similar interests, “We feel as if we are emotional archaeologists given the chance to dig into others’ lives and find the gems,” Blake said. “We have people in here with stories — the owner of a pharmaceutical company, a published author, apple growers, bankers — and they’re in another chapter in their book here. We want to try to make this final chapter something reflective that we can reminisce about. In the psych world we call it self-actualization,” or fulfilling individual potential.
“We want to get to a point where they can look back on life and have a sense of accomplishment and peace, rather than despair and loneliness,” Ringenberg said. “Ultimately, our goal is to go deeper with our residents. In a world where health care is a mile wide and an inch deep, we believe we are moving in the right direction with this new program. We meet their lower-level needs with nursing, then we also go into meeting higher-level needs by offering psycho-social and spirituality with multi-denominational Sunday chapel service.”
Each Wednesday, bygone treasures arrive from auctions at Amish Acres in Nappanee, such as a typewriter, a gasoline pump and World War II memorabilia.
“We bring in things that will stimulate reminiscing,” Ringenberg said, which includes a wall of framed newspaper front pages, Coca Cola collectibles, a music area with a phonograph and black vinyl records and a sports spot, creating a basement rec room feel.
“Residents and family members have really gotten into it,” Lovely said. “They’ve donated dolls. It reminds them of things they had, or their grandmothers had. It brings back memories and makes them feel more at home and calmer. It’s definitely therapeutic and it’s usually a project,” such as the windmill and coffee grinder by the barn, which does dual duty as aesthetic appeal and a storage shed.
“People think coming to a nursing home takes away freedom,” Ringenberg said. “We say you have more freedom. Your health is taken care of, which gives you substantial freedom to do things you maybe wouldn’t have be able to at home. A cup of coffee or hot chocolate and good conversation out by the barn. Toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories around a campfire. We’re having a petting zoo come so residents can feed goats. A little can mean a lot.”
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