Ken Health Care: A home away from home for seniors
“Having a place to live is home. Having someone to live with is family. Having both is a wonderful life” Ali Bassam
For the past 16 years, Registered Nurse Lyn Kennedy-McKenzie has been creating a home away from home for senior citizens who, once inducted, automatically become members of her own extended family.
This idea, which came out of an encounter with a stranger in the bank, who expressed their wish to have a home away from home, saw Kennedy-McKenzie transforming a section of her home to allow for a 25-bed facility with 24 nursing staff.
“The intent initially was to offer assisted and independent living, but seniors age, and their needs change overtime. We used to have short stay for persons who needed respite, persons who were recuperating after a surgery and are not ready to go home, but we also have residents with total health are needs and residents who have been here up to 12 years … ,” said Kennedy-McKenzie
From birthday parties to mini-musicals, special excursions, nature walks and gardening activities, residents can be seen at the Ken Health Care home living life and loving it despite any ailment they may have.
But among the activities for holistic care at the home is the strong emphasis placed on spirituality.
“We try to offer as comprehensive an approach to caring as is possible ... . We use talk therapy, reminiscence therapy, dance therapy and worship. Even though some residents may not be Christians or from any denominational group, they love worship time, which is a normal part of our ritual here. Every day at a quarter to six, it is worship time, and we get our tambourines out and we get our maracas out and we tell them to bring their voice box when they are coming in,” she said with a laugh
Kennedy-McKenzie said as a result of their participation, harmony is further maintained in the home, and residents even in an advanced stage of dementia, are given the opportunity to experience renewed conviction and express their faith lucidly.
“… When we ask them to pray, they remember the act of prayer, they remember they are talking to God and that they are not doing it alone but in community, and they ask God to bless the people who care for them and the people who are with them. Worship leaves you profoundly impacted. I have seen people reconcile their own accounts with God here … ,” she said.
Kennedy-McKenzie said not only is her home blessed with seniors whose presence and fun spirit uplift the space, but she has been blessed to have had three centenarians, including her late father, who was up and about three months before his passing.
“Our youngest resident is 65, and he has been with us for three years, and our oldest client, Winnifred Hendricks, turned 105 on December 23, 2021, and she has been with us since 2010. Miss Winnifred was the postmistress for the Spalding Post Office … . She is very charming, very refined, and very cogent and is always sharing her stories mainly about the post office.”
Manager at the home Beryl Gordon says she quite often remembers Hendricks’ wit and is always pleased to engage with other residents.
“When we serve the meals, we normally tell them to pray. I remember one day, Miss Winni did not want to eat, and she said ‘Lord, thank you for this food I will not receive’… ,” Gordon said with hearty bouts of laughter .
“The seniors really are like children. They will tell you as it is, and you really have to just laugh … . I remember one nurse wore a wig for the first time, and one of the residents said, ‘Nurse, the wig nuh fit you … . Dem nuh tell you?’ They are going to tell you as it is,” Gordon added as she laughed even more.
In addition to the medicine from laughter that often fills the rooms, Kennedy-McKenzie said there is also a physiotherapist, an in-house massage therapist, and organic foods are prepared as much as possible and used as medicine.
“We grow our own chickens, so we have our own eggs. W produce our own honey. I make up all the seasonings for the herbs that we plant … . I envision that one of these days I may need care, and human dignity is very important to me. It’s not just length of life, it’s quality of life. They must feel love, cosseted, [be] well-fed, nourished. The environment must enrich them.”