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Category: Press

New Logo for Cedar Sinai Park Highlights Inclusivity

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Cedar Sinai Park has re-branded itself with a new logo that represents the inclusivity the organization seeks.

“Looking at our new logo, no matter your religion, culture, or ethnicity, you can feel a sense of belonging,” said Board Chair Steve Rallison. “Appealing to the larger community, without forgetting our Jewish roots,  is a direction Cedar Sinai Park  has been headed for a while.  The new logo is indicative of the organization’s inclusive, forward-moving direction.”

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fuson said the new logo was a year in the making. “There were many discussions with residents and staff and the community and board about what makes Cedar Sinai Park unique, and how we carry our foundational Jewish values of  love, honor, and respect  into the next century,” she said. “We believe the design selected hits all of those notes.”

Fuson said the design was intentionally inclusive with the Star of David in the middle, representing Judaism and the “heart” of Cedar Sinai Park’s history and longevity, but additional elements were added to represent interconnection with others, including a cross, curving toward the heart, a flame, for the energy and positivity in the community, and leaves as a symbol of new growth and opportunity.

“Our new logo weaves inclusivity into the tapestry of life at Cedar Sinai Park; this logo is an expression of Kulanu,  of all of us together ; of residents, families, staff, volunteers and trustees learning and growing in support of our mission at Cedar Sinai Park residents,” said Fuson.

Currently, about 75 percent of elders who access Cedar Sinai Park’s services are Jewish; the other 25 percent are a mix of other cultures, ethnicities, and religious and spiritual affiliations.

“We know that in order to flourish as an organization, we need to serve the broader community,” said Fuson. “Many of our non-Jewish elders are referred by their Jewish friends, and we always want them to have a place at our table and feel welcomed, while at the same time honoring the foundational Jewish values upon we have been known for the past 102 years.

“We are an organization that embraces diversity and our logo represents that inclusivity,” said Fuson. “By virtue of our Jewish heritage, we are a people who deeply understand oppression. Many of our staff sought to work at Cedar Sinai Park because we embrace the unique richness of each individual. Often, we find that people of other cultures understand that about our community and want to work and live and connect with us because they feel safe expressing their whole person.

Fuson said the new logo expresses the idea of person-centered care, where the entire community supports each other regardless of where they are in their aging journey.

“At Cedar Sinai Park, our culture of community supports first knowing each person with whom we work, live and volunteer. We all care for each other. As one of our trustees said, “our logo feels like being embraced in a warm blanket of love.”


Linfield Student Nurses Receive Hands-on Clinical Training at Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Nursing students from Linfield College are at Cedar Sinai Park for eight-week clinical rotations, as part of their bachelor of nursing program. Almost two dozen students have been helping at Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living with tasks such as interviewing patients, changing wound dressings, feeding meals, transferring our beloved friends, and administering insulin.

Groups of students began rotations here in August, and the last group will finish in early December. Several shared their observations, as their rotation was winding down.

“We’ve all pictured what nursing homes would be like, yet coming here was completely different,” said nursing student Makenzie. “It’s clean here and it doesn’t smell, and the residents are well taken care of. It’s a very friendly environment. The nurses are very empathetic towards the residents and are willing to spend the time to get on their level and talk with them.

“It’s really cool because the residents have tons of activities to do. This is way more than just somewhere for them to exist. It’s a full experience, which is really nice.”

Makenzie added that Cedar Sinai Park has “everything needed to provide efficient care” and help its nurses succeed, and that the rotation offers nursing students the chance to see different health professionals in action. Several of the students pursuing nursing degrees already are certified nursing assistants and have worked in other elder living facilities.

“It’s nice to see the whole process of how the different roles work,” said nursing student Tiffany. “Doing rotations, you kind of worry, because we’ve all heard horror stories of nurses that don’t want to work with students because they’re rushed due to Covid and don’t have time for students, but everyone here is great.”

Linfield Adjunct Professor Florence Omekara, Ph.D., R.N., I.B.C.L.C., agreed the clinical experiences at Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living have been positive and effective.

“We are all very appreciative of the learning experiences and support here at this facility,” said Omekara, “and the students are excited to use the skills for their future nursing practice as they go out into the workforce.”

 


Jeremy Schwartzberg: A Foodie Comes to Oregon

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

You might say Jeremy Schwartzberg grew up in food.

“Our family owned a food business,” said the senior chef at Rose Schnitzer Manor (pictured at right, with longtime cook Martin). “I grew up in the Catskills and Borsch Belt. All the hotels around us were kosher and we sold them all food. I’ve never walked in the front door of a kitchen; I was always in the back door.”

Jeremy is a lifelong New Yorker and talks like one, rapid-fire, short, and direct sentences. He’s lived in a number of states: Georgia, Nevada, and Florida, among others.

Four years ago, his best friend who’d moved to Portland suggested Jeremy try Oregon. Jeremy took a job at an insurance company, but before he could start working, he was asked to interview at Cedar Sinai Park.

“The executive chef and I met in the Lubliner private dining room, and Lubliner is my mother’s maiden name,” he said. “After the interview, I called my brother and asked, ‘Is this a sign?’ Mom had just died. He said I should take the chef job. So, I started working here and I’ve been here ever since.”

Jeremy attended the State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta for a bachelor of arts in business administration and economics, and then went on to SUNY Sullivan County Community College for a culinary degree.

Fortunately, for Cedar Sinai Park, cooking kosher comes naturally to Jeremy. He does a great job explaining to new employees how kosher works and the need for separate dairy and meat kitchens, along with which animals can be consumed and when and how kitchen items can be shared and how to determine whether a product is kosher certified.

“I actually grew up non-kosher,” he said. “I ate bacon at home. But we didn’t have milk on our table at dinner at home, and we never served meat and dairy together.”

Jeremy said he orders all of Rose Schnitzer Manor’s kosher food from Seattle, and the kosher meats are from South America.

“I didn’t know they had rabbis slaughtering and blessing our food, but all our meat comes from Paraguay,” he said, chuckling.

“Kosher is a better quality of meat,” said Jeremy. “The cuts are better. The animals are humanely slaughtered to remove all of the fat and nerves and as much blood as possible, so there’s really not too much bacteria left, and it’s good quality. It feels a little healthier and richer.”

What is the most popular meal? “Anything with chicken or meat,” he said. “Friday night Shabbats here are the best.

“We serve tons of fish. Fish must have fins and scales, so no shellfish. We often serve salmon, or sole, red snapper, or halibut.”

A typical day has Jeremy putting away the produce that’s been delivered, and he has to place all the food orders by 10 a.m.

“US Foods, Sysco, Pacific Seafood, Alpenrose,” he recited. “I order produce every day. The two big boys, I get twice a week. I do my affordable kosher order for the upcoming week. It’s a week in advance. Then, on Wednesdays, I usually put away all the food and I usually prep all day or cook or whatever needs to be done. I do all the catering. I prep and cook on Sundays and Thursday.”

The kitchen is a very busy place, and the dining rooms are a main attraction for residents’ not just for food, but socially. So, Jeremy often pulls six-day weeks, with holidays like Passover even more time consuming, he said.

In his spare time, Jeremy plays golf. “My grandparents lived on a golf course in Florida, but I never golfed a day in my life until I moved out here. And now I play three days a week.

“This place is great. I like working here. I’m a mentor. I help everybody here; that’s who I am. It’s very family-oriented, and I feel like I’m hanging out with my grandparents.

 


PCC Students Benefiting from Cedar Sinai Park Partnership

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

When Portland Community College (PCC) student Richana McManus was looking for an internship in gerontology, Cedar Sinai Park was her first choice.

“I heard Nancy [Heckler] speaking about Cedar Sinai Park’s Adult Day Services program and I was almost salivating,” said McManus, who describes herself as a middle-aged woman looking for a career to suit her skills. “I knew from day one that I wanted to work with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia and I was in a deep search for an internship opportunity, so the information came from the right person at the right time.”

Richana is one of four PCC interns who volunteered in Adult Day Services this spring for their professional gerontology certificates. PCC students in the gerontology program are required to volunteer in a gerontology setting for at least 130 hours to graduate, said McManus.

The PCC and Cedar Sinai Park partnership began in 2011, said Heckler, who directs Adult Day Services.

“We have a long history of partnering with PCC students in the gerontology program,” said Nancy. “The four interns this spring were a great group. The partnership is a win-win endeavor for all of us.

“Our union with PCC is one of theoretical and practical knowledge. We need each other to grow, to learn, and to experience the complex and diverse ways of living together as we age.”

PCC Gerontology Instructor Michael Faber said Cedar Sinai Park is typically the internship of choice for many of his gerontology students. “We just love having our students there,” said Faber. “They get such a high-quality experience, and we know it’s a high-quality facility, and that the organization recognizes person-centered care, which is how we teach our students.

“It’s important to have the kind of education and training that a Cedar Sinai Park internship provides,” he said. “And working with staff like Nancy, in particular, who understands the mission of our program is incredible. Each intern is worked with individually, and is helped to discover and grow in their career development. Our students really get what they need. The internships are great, and we love them.”

McManus will be job hunting after winter term and said she greatly enjoyed the Cedar Sinai Park experience.

“I like the philosophy of staff in working with the group members who come here,” said McManus. “I like the attention to detail that they pay to what is comfortable for each individual, and the group as a whole. Every person who comes to the Adult Day Services program is known.

“We still ask them if they want coffee, even though we know the answers to those questions. It’s giving the group members an opportunity to interact and have agency. I really love that because every aspect of the program is designed for success for the people who participate,” she said.

“It’s very prevalent that people will write off a person with dementia. They think there’s ‘nobody home.’ And that isn’t the case at all. That’s what brought me to this work because someone’s `home’ in every heart.

“I have learned so much from being here.”


Barbie Enkelis: Retiring to Her Second Home

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

It is safe to say, Barbie Enkelis, 71, has never forgotten a birthday.

“Your birthday is May 14. Her birthday is December 16 and hers is January 9. Kathy’s is April 15. And Kimberly’s birthday is in June, the 24th,” she says, rapid-fire while visiting the executive offices of Cedar Sinai Park.*

For more than 28 years, Barbie has commemorated the birthdays of employees as the nonprofit’s Simcha Coordinator. She also remembers the room numbers in which people have lived, stayed, or worked. And she memorizes license plates, so when a car is parked illegally, Barbie is the one to find.

“I like numbers. I don’t know how I remember. My mom used to say she wishes I would remember other things like to go home on time,” said Barbie, with a laugh.

“Barbie is an institution,” said Community Life Director Jennifer Felberg. “She practically lives here. We love Barbie and we have to share her with her own family, so we tell her to go home.”

Given that Barbie’s home has been Robison since she was an infant, “it’s going to be very hard to walk away,” said Barbie. “I know it will be a tear jerker.”

Cedar Sinai Park is definitely a family affair for Barbie. Her mom and dad, Velma Zelda (Cissi) and Milt Carl, used to bring her to the Robison Home to visit her grandparents, Gussie and Nate Carl. Home lore has it that residents would rock little Barbie when she visited.

“She was a good girl,” said Harold Schnitzer Center for Living resident Joeen Rodinsky, whose family was friends with Barbie’s family. “Her family were lovely people.”

As Barbie grew up, her dad joined the Robison Home board (president in 1982 and 1983), with friends Henry Blauer and Leonard Barde, and Milt was instrumental in the fundraising for the construction of Rose Schnitzer Manor for independent and assisted living. Barbie’s sister, Pam, and her brother-in-law Stan Rotenberg were also deeply involved. Stan was president in 1987 and 1988.

“And then my dad talked me into working here,” said Barbie, whose first day was in 1993.

As an employee, Barbie regularly walks the hallways named for her father and his friends. “Everywhere I go, I see my dad,” she said.

Some of the residents now living at Cedar Sinai Park are either related to Barbie or knew her family members. “A few are like my parents—they still tell me what to do,” she said, laughing again.

Indeed, Barbie just wheeled one relative to an activity at Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, and another resident who she often escorts to the Goodman Living Room for recreation was Barbie’s southeast Portland neighbor growing up and attended high school with her.

“We have a joke going where he asks me what’s for dinner and I say that I’m cooking,” said Barbie. “Our family was never in our kitchen because we didn’t eat at home, so we both laugh at that one.

“Today would have been his dad’s birthday, too.”

Cissi stayed in the Home after surgery in 2010. Husband Mike’s aunt and uncle, Lois and Marvin Enkelis, were briefly at the Home in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and Mike’s grandmother, Rose Shnitka, was in memory care in the early 1980s. Son, Gary, volunteered at Robison and Rose Schnitzer Manor. Milt’s sister, Eva Walleston, lived at Rose Schnitzer in 2012. Stan’s mother, Vivian, lived in memory care in the late 1990s, and his father, Lou, was at Rose Schnitzer Manor in early 2000. And current chief executive officer Kimberly Fuson is Barbie’s cousin.

“Barbie, is there anyone you don’t know in the Jewish community?” she’s asked.

“No, there isn’t,” Joeen answers for Barbie. “And if she doesn’t know them, she knows someone who knows them. She remembers everyone.”

Over the years, Barbie has worked in Life Enrichment (previously activities) and as a receptionist. But her favorite activity remains Bingo, a game she never played as a child, never played at home with Mike or Gary, and only picked up in her forties as a Cedar Sinai Park employee.

“I love Bingo,” said Barbie, who often sports a Bingo mask and had the B-I-N-G-O song as a cell phone ringtone. “I’m going to miss it, especially when I know a Bingo Day is coming.”

Longtime volunteer Charles Jagger has known Barbie for more than 20 years. “I would think that we will have Barbie go on outings, and she will probably be volunteering when the residents visit restaurants. I have a feeling she will be back occasionally.”

Barbie asks about going to Washington Square.  “There isn’t enough time for us to have you go out to Washington Square!” said Charles.

“They said they would only take me one way,” said Barbie, with another chuckle. “I like to shop and they won’t let me go with them because I’ll be there all day.”

Barbie’s plan is to retire August 25. “That’s the anniversary of my dad’s death,” she said.

During Covid, Barbie worked from home, but would walk to the Home to peek in the windows to see what was happening because she was “going crazy” not being here.

“Every community needs someone like Barbie,” said Kimberly. “She is our heart and soul.”

In her new free time, Barbie says Mike wants to travel, perhaps a cruise. She intends to go shopping more. But she’ll be close by, for whatever happens. She wants to volunteer as a Bingo caller.

“I have three homes on this street,” said Barbie. “My home is number one, the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living/Robison Jewish Health Center is number two. And Rose Schnitzer Manor is number three.

“It’s time to go to home number one now.”

*Birth dates have been changed for privacy. But trust us, Barbie knew all of the exact dates by heart.


Annette Gerard: Selling it Like it is

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Need some candy or a card? Forgot to buy laundry detergent? Or would you like Judaica for a Jewish holiday?

Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Stop N’ Shop has you covered.

“We have a tremendous number of items for sale, including jewelry,” said Annette Gerard, 96, who has managed the Stop N’ Shop with the help of volunteers for the past five years, and volunteered at the store for seven years prior. “We have a few connections who donate items or give us stuff at cost, and we have a good amount of stock now.”

No one can quite remember when the Stop N’ Shop officially opened. But Facilities Manager Tammy Heard believes the store began around 20 years ago. The space used to house a coffee bar for residents.

Today, the Stop N’ Shop is open four days a week (Monday through Thursday) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Each day, different volunteers help residents and their families ring up their purchases.

“It’s hard to know what might sell on any given day,” said Annette. “Sometimes, people will come in and see candy in the front of the display that reminds them of their childhood. It can be weeks before I sell laundry detergent and then three people will come in on the same day and clear out the shelf.”

Monday volunteer Margaret Gotesman (pictured at left with Annette) is the store buyer. “She comes in on Monday, looks around, takes inventory, and sees what we need,” said Annette. “She knows what sells and then goes out to shop.  The following Monday, she brings in new items, puts on a price, and then it’s out for sale.”

Two volunteers–Barbara Rudolph (Tuesdays) and Marilyn Soulas (Wednesdays)— had mothers’ living at Rose Schnitzer Manor and volunteered to help Annette even after their family members passed. Elaine Salburg is a friend of Marilyn and Margaret and tackles Thursdays. Annette fills in on the days her volunteers have timing conflicts. All monies raised go to the Cedar Sinai Park Foundation.

“The four volunteers are wonderful,” said Annette. “We wouldn’t be open without them.”

Annette and her husband, Melvin, lived in Queens, New York, for 60 years. Melvin was an engineer and started a business designing equipment in 1965. The pair worked out of the family home, and Annette became the bookkeeper and secretary.

When Melvin died, Annette moved to Oregon after a few years and selected Rose Schnitzer Manor because she has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren in Portland.

“I like it here,” said Annette. “They take good care of us. They really do. The staff is wonderful. And the residents are very nice. And there’s a lot of activities.”

The walls in Annette’s apartment are filled with art creations: pictures in 3-dimension and others with intricately glued watch parts. Yarn lays on the sofa, waiting for Annette to turn it into a hat or scarf (Annette has donated nearly 4600 hats and scarves to charity, including Ukraine support groups).

“I make a hat every day while I watch television,” said Annette.

With her 97th birthday coming up in a few months, Annette has been training her heir apparent to coordinate the Stop N’ Shop books. There’s no firm date on when the transition is official, but store procedures have been drafted and systems already passed on.

“Somebody needs to do the bookkeeping,” said Annette. “I like the socializing with the customers. So, I’ll be here until I’m not needed any more.”


Jeanine Semon: Creativity Still Flowing at 92

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

When Jeanine Semon’s husband, Ed, used to leave for work every morning around 7:30 a.m., he would advise her to stay off the phone until after noon.

“That’s all he’d say,” said Jeanine, with a chuckle. “He knew my high-energy painting time was nine in the morning. And then after 12:30, he knew I’d painted. And he was right.”

Ed Semon recently passed (April 25, 2022), but even while grieving, Jeanine can still feel his quiet support in her artistic endeavors.

“I’ve been painting for more than 65 years,” said Jeanine. “In all that time, Ed never had an opinion, a preference about my work, neither criticism nor compliments. All he did was go along with what I wanted and he was always there to help with the children or cooking or whatever I needed, whether it was driving the car to New Mexico and West Virginia to show and teach, or to art museums and galleries in Chicago and Madison. He was a wonderful man.”

Jeanine Gassman grew up in Portage, Wisconsin. She attended University of Wisconsin in Madison for a year, then transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York to study costume design.

Disappointed in her New York choice, Jeanine decided to leave Parsons and New York and return to Milwaukee, taking art classes at the two arts schools available.

“They were mediocre classes,” said Jeanine. “So, I left and got a job working at the Red Cross.” It was during that time that Jeanine met Ed Semon. They married and had two boys, Bruce and Jesse. Later, Betsy would follow.

One day when she was 26, Jeanine took her sons—so small they occupied the same buggy—to the Milwaukee Jewish Community Center. There was an art show on view.

“I didn’t know there was an art exhibit,” said Jeanine. “I looked at the paintings, and was electrified. I went out to the desk and asked where the art had come from, and they said that there was an art class on Wednesday nights at seven. I said, ‘That sounds perfect.’

“The following Wednesday, I was in that class, and from there I never stopped painting.”

In the beginning, Jeanine concentrated on Wisconsin landscapes. She grew to love the native American philosophy of nature and its respect for creatures and trees. She made jewelry and learned stain glass. She began to have galleries of her own, and she taught art classes in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., Flagstaff, Arizona, and Rome, Italy.

“I was always meeting people that connected me,” said Jeanine. “I’m a person that opens the door when it’s offered.”

Jeanine describes her work as “healing art,” images that “give joy, comfort, and make you feel good.” She said a friend undergoing chemotherapy set up Jeanine’s dolphin prints in her treatment room for comfort. The hospital in Menomenee Falls where she and Ed raised their family has Jeanine’s paintings on their walls.

When Betsy was in school all day, Jeanine returned to the University of Wisconsin part time taking two classes each semester. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts at age 48. That was in 1978.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “It didn’t make any difference to me that it was taking a while. I was in no hurry.”

Jeanine’s art was a constant by then as Ed taught school and wrote books. Many a winter the couple rented space in Oregon to visit Betsy who had taken a job at KEX Radio in Portland. During one of their stays, Ed suffered a stroke, and the pair moved to an assisted living facility.

Several years ago, Jeanine and Ed moved to Rose Schnitzer Manor at Cedar Sinai Park.

“There are a lot of good, interesting people here, and wonderful activities,” said Jeanine. “I am a people person, and that’s why I live here.”

In May, Jeanine’s work was displayed outside the Manor’s May Café, and she is considering teaching a class to residents. She is writing her third book about art. There are several large canvasses in her apartment upon which she has sketched emerging scenes, some in colors she has never tried before. She is hoping to exhibit her work soon at the Hillsdale library, since her first exhibit was in her hometown library and she loves books.

“This one is a series on creation,” said Jeanine, unrolling a set of five prints. “It is interesting because I discovered something psychologically about myself. Every one of these paintings has an exit. There’s a place to go out. There is freedom.

“These guys are coming out of the water and they’re floating and they can get out; there’s always an escape, a place to move beyond. These characters started as horses and as they migrated to the sides of the frame, becoming a different sort of water-sky creature.

“They represent passages and freedom to me. You know, you can’t keep animals alive and healthy by putting them in a protected place; they need to be able to mix their genes freely to survive.”

Jeanine is on a brief painting hiatus while she mourns Ed. But she wants people to know that ideas don’t have an age limit.

“I think people ought to know that when you’re 92, creativity is still coming,” she said. “When Ed was sleeping, I had so many ideas in the evening. I think it’s healthy to see that older people can achieve.”

For information on Jeanine’s books, go to amazon.com or jeaninesdream.com.

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Residents Make a Difference at Rose Schnitzer Manor

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

One of the beauties of residing in an assisted living community is that there are always new ideas to share and challenges for solving! Residents with decades of life experience bring their thoughts and interests to Rose Schnitzer Manor to lead activities and take lives in a new direction.

“Our residents are involved and have so much to offer,” said Life Enrichment Coordinator Fabiana Dal Cero. “Some of the new activities come about through the Resident Council, but many are happening simply because residents see a need and they step up to help make change happen.”

For example, Harriet Dietz raised questions about safety during a Resident Council meeting that led to the formation of a Safety Committee, which resulted in a series of helpful presentations from local agencies about security.

Eve Rosenfeld has joined Harriet Block in revitalizing the welcome committee, actively greeting and including new members and guiding them in all that Rose Schnitzer Manor has to offer.

Books are of interest, and a number of residents have stepped up to ensure all are included in reading. Volunteers took on the task of reorganizing and coding nearly 3,000 titles in the RSM library. Paula Nelson, with other book lovers, began meeting once a week to discuss what they are reading. Arthur Ginsburg takes book discussions in another direction with a monthly book discussion with large-print books provided by Multnomah County Library.

Annette Gerard helms the Stop ’n Shop so residents have a place to purchase small sundries. Geneticist Marie Godfrey has initiated a series of presentations about genetics research.

A number of residents have begun movement classes. Beverly Nighorn, who tap-danced in the movies as a child, created a seated tap-dancing class, and Jeanine Semon shared yoga every Sunday. Sophia Rose and Spiritual Life Director Cathy Zheutlin co-lead a music and movement class.

Pete Brown realized sing-alongs were popular amongst his peers and began sharing his love of music and facility for singing and guitar playing with residents weekly, which was particularly helpful during the pandemic.

“We also have a weekly game night that was initiated by a resident, and we’ve had residents offer to take care of the vegetables and herbs in the raised beds,” said Fabiana. “No matter what their interests, we always encourage residents to share their talents with us. It is often our residents’ asking questions that lead us to ideas we’ve never tried, and fun new outings, as well as novel ways of connecting.”

To share an idea, please contact Fabiana (4041) or Adam (4055) in Life Enrichment.


Dignity Committee Enhancing Person-Centered Care

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

One aspect of creating a home life for Cedar Sinai Park residents is respecting their apartments and suites when cleaning and organizing and providing care. Ways to tackle these tasks respectfully with residents’ preferences in mind was the focus of the organization’s Dignity Committee these past weeks.

“We all need reminders to respect people’s personal spaces when we are in them and to ask first if it’s okay to move items,” said committee chair and Director of Community Life Jennifer Felberg. “The simple act of asking makes people feel respected and more open to giving permission, and instills trust.

“For example, our committee discussed whether residents want their personal products out in the open or put away,” said Felberg. “There is a careful balance between what we think is dignity for the residents and what they feel is dignity. So, we determined that many of our elders like their items to always be in the same spot, while others have no preference, so the bottom line is that it’s important to ask or, when in doubt, just leave the items where they were originally.”

Felberg re-instituted the Dignity Committee at Cedar Sinai Park several months ago to reinforce person- centered care (care the resident wants, not what people think the resident wants). The group meets monthly to discuss ways to promote dignity on campus.

“The focus on respect in resident apartments was our topic for April,” said Felberg. “A group from our committee is now developing a flier for sharing with all staff on the topic.”

To kick off the May exercise Felberg re-created how a resident with vision/hearing loss and limited mobility might feel when presented with a meal (see photo with human resources coordinator Cara Balske (left) and Felberg).

“It’s good to put yourself in the shoes of someone else to see what they are dealing with on a daily basis,” said Felberg. “I think this is an important exercise to share with others in service so they understand that the people for which they are caring can’t always see or hear or move well, and that the care provided needs to be adjusted accordingly.”

The committee has also worked on ideas to ensure people’s names are known and used, and for May, will explore ways to let everyone know they make a difference in our community.

Said Felberg: “It’s important that we all take care of one another, and that’s what the Dignity Committee is here for, to enhance a culture where we are all a family.”

 

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Cedar Sinai Now Has Portland’s Only Positive Approach to Care (PAC) Certified Independent Trainer

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Staff who have a question about caring for residents with dementia need to look no further than Heather Hess. The Interim Sinai In-Home Care Director is the only Positive Approach to Care (PAC) Certified Independent Trainers in the Portland-area, having recently completed the intensive certification process.

“The certification courses were really kind of awesome because I got a true understanding of the brain and why dementia is happening,” said Hess, 44, who joined Cedar Sinai Park nearly eight years ago as a caregiver in the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living. “You have pre-coursework before the certification classes, and then the coursework, and then lots of hands-on afterwards to put on a workshop for others about what you’ve learned. And I was working full-time on top of those responsibilities.

“To gain certification, I ended up training all of our caregivers for In-Home Care, so now all of our staff has advanced training in dementia care and they understand the expectations,” added Hess. “Our caregivers now have a level of education in dementia care that sets us apart from everyone else in the local senior living industry.

“The knowledge and skills our staff have are challenging to learn, but they said they now feel like they have a toolbox to work from and can handle clients with Alzheimer’s and behavioral issues much better. They get so excited and proud of themselves when the techniques they’ve learned work.”

PAC is an organization founded by nationally-recognized dementia expert Teepa Snow, who has developed a widely-respected person-centered and engagement-driven philosophy designed to support those living with brain change in a more positive and respectful way.

An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021 and that number was projected to rise to almost 13 million by 2050. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia—more than breast and prostate cancer combined.

“Learning how the brain works and advancing your knowledge as the disease advances is so critical,” says Hess. “There is so much we still don’t know. There are more than 250 types of dementia! We need to be prepared and ready to handle the influx of people who will need care.

“I’m so excited that we now have a consistent tool for us to use.”

Hess wanted to be a caregiver from a young age. “I was in and out of foster care as a kid so I did not have a stable family. Family and taking care of people was the only way I could connect and give back for a loss that I was feeling growing up.”

She started out at age 15 as a hospital candy striper in Ukiah, California, through an ROTC program, changing bed pans and re-positioning catheters among other patient duties.

“Those positions don’t even exist anymore,” said Hess, with a laugh. “It was a very emotional job and it really impacted me at 15. I learned that what we do from when people get sick to when they die is what matters in life.”

Hess earned a bachelor of arts in early childhood development while pregnant with her first child, who is high-functioning autistic, desiring extra skills to help her daughter.

“And then my husband and I moved to Oregon to take care of my elderly in-laws, so caregiving professionally was already kind of naturally lining up with what I was doing at home.

“I did my homework and Cedar Sinai Park was the only place I could find where I knew I could grow in my career. Also, Cedar Sinai Park had a reputation for having long-term employees, which is really what you’re looking for in a company. When a place has a lot of long-term employees, that says something solid about the company, and that’s what led to my decision to start here.”

Hess was client caregiver for Sinai In-Home Care for several years, training all the new hires. Even as Interim Director of Sinai In-Home Care, she is out in the field conducting client intakes, and develops and updates care plans, troubleshoots, and has quarterly client monitoring visits. She also attends job fairs, handles paperwork, coordinates staff in-services, and sits on several Cedar Sinai committees. Some of her clients are residents at Rose Schnitzer Manor where she is remembered as the “Flower Lady” for the various colorful flowers stuck in her up-do.

“I think we have a higher level of respect here than you get in any other outside senior agency,” said Hess. “It’s easy to talk to anybody here. If you have an issue, it’s dealt with; you’re not stuck waiting for a solution because of the comfortability level amongst staff and supervisors.

“Our residents and clients are truly are so important to me because they are an extension of our loved ones,” said Hess. “We might not be blood-related, but they live here long enough that they are family, and I love them like family. I really do.”

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