A Brand New Day

“We as a unit discuss our household goals, and work with residents to achieve them. We all know we’re in this together.”

- Sue Sukovich, Shorehaven CNA

“I get to count ALL the money,” Shorehaven resident Martha stated proudly after a December cookie sale in Summer Creek Household. Her household raised cookie sale revenues to help fund a trip to see an expansive Christmas light display at a nearby resort. “I didn’t even want to go on the trip at first. But the other residents in my household voted to go. We scheduled the cookie sale, and family members and staff brought the goods. Then I got to count all the money to see how much we made.”


Martha is just one of more than 130 residents who have literally risen to the occasion at the new nursing home on the shores of Lac La Belle in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “I feel like they listen to me here. Even more than before. I feel as if when I say something, people are listening.”


Transition and transformation are still the buzzwords at Shorehaven Health and Rehabilitation Center as staff continues to employ the resident-centered culture at the 18-month old building. Shorehaven is one of the first health centers in the state to employ the true resident-centered culture, advocating resident choice in “households,” ultimately creating a home.


“LHO has proven itself as a leader in the state in implementing the household concept,” said Administrator Lorna Gartzke. “It’s working. Residents are eating more, taking in more fluids, making more decisions and embracing more activities. We’ve documented real improvement in resident lives.”


Residents are involved in everyday tasks such as taking down holiday decorations, rolling up a ball of yarn, setting the table and exchanging a prayer. “Now when we say our table prayer, hands reach out across the table to the person next to them. There’s a connectedness now. When a resident goes to the hospital, we each wish them well and offer a hopeful send-off.”


Family traditions are recreated, too. One family member, Bill, said in his family the birthday person “never had to do the dishes that evening.” When staff member Pat Staude celebrated her special day, Bill strode across the dining room to do the party dishes. “We felt a connectedness not only with him, but with his sense of tradition,” said staff member Jan Braun.


Bill said the same about visiting his wife Margrete at the nursing home. “As a spouse, I feel comfortable pulling up my chair and reading the morning paper with her. It’s just like in our old kitchen with the light streaming in. If staff doesn’t notice something different about Margrete, I let them know, and they keep me informed, too.”


Resident, Jean, testified to the building’s “smelling different.” “I wake up to the aroma of scrambled eggs and bacon. Someone else orders oatmeal. The guy across the table always wants his toast,” laughed Jean. “Me? Sometimes I just like to sit and listen to the chatter.”


The difference is in the family unit, she said. “You’re not just an individual sitting alone in the corner. In the Greenland household, you’re a family member, and you belong to a bigger whole.”


Greenland staff agrees. “I’ve noticed the quieter residents are more vocal, the louder residents listen better,” said Nancy Zitelman. CNA Sue Sukovich said visiting families are “more involved.” “They understand it’s a community effort. You talk to everyone in the household, not just the ‘roommate.’” “We as a unit discuss our household goals, and work with residents to achieve them. We all know we’re in this together.”


“The residents actually ask me, ‘What are we going to do next, Julie?’ They feel challenged. They feel they want to rise to that challenge,” said staff member Julie Weymier, adding a Nacho fest, KFC picnic and pizza tailgate party are slated for later this month. “We have more community coming to them, and they’re going out more in the community.”


“In our former Shorehaven building, we provided an excellent source for care,” added Meadowview household representative Jan Braun. “But our current building provides a home to live in. While we focused on care before, now we focus on the residents and their lives.”


This story was contributed by Sarah Williams-Berg, Director of Community Relations at Shorehaven.

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