I would like to post a brief description of my mom’s experience at Vista Springs, where she lived the last 38 months of her life. I assume anyone reading this narrative is researching someplace to live or move a loved one to. I’m also assuming that there is a realization that this will be their final move. As I have in the past documented in detail each major event in Mom’s life at Vista Springs; I’m really going to try and be brief.
There are at least two parts to this narrative. The personnel and services provided by Vista Springs, and how they interacted with Mom, or how Mom accepted their help.
At Vista Springs, care begins with those that have the most contact with the resident; the aids. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if Mom remembered to press the button she wore around her neck, the aid’s goal was to be there within 3 minutes or less. They were there to help her with anything Mom wanted or needed.
The next closest contact were the nurses. Once again, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there was a nurse on every floor monitoring her vitals and administering her meds. Also of critical importance to Mom were the speech, occupational and physical therapists which Vista Springs keeps on staff; Mom used all three at various times.
The next level of contact was the housekeeping and laundry. These are not insignificant positions; old frail people are messy eaters! Speaking of eating, Vista Springs has a beautiful dining room and a well-planned menu. They also prepare meals specifically targeted for each resident as required. As mom aged, all her food had to be pureed. Vista Springs also has an activities director. The goal is to get the residents up, out of their rooms and active; there are games, music, happy hour, walking clubs, baking, and they’re open to suggestions.
And yes, Vista Springs has a healthy management chain; also worth its weight in cryptocurrency. If you need help in navigating the legal or government health care systems, they can point you in the right direction, set up Zoom calls, and help support you in the decisions you make. An invaluable asset for us. Top notch management is as important as a pleasant, helpful aid in caring for your loved one. That’s our takeaway.
There is also the spiritual health aspect. Depending on the pandemic, your pastor, priest, or rabbi will have nearly unfettered access. Currently, I believe there are Catholic services, Rosaries, and Bible studies on site. If these don’t fit your needs, start your own study or prayer group. You can still be relevant in life.
So, back to mom. In the first place, mom waited far too long to give up her home and move to assisted living. By the time mom moved in, she required intensive help with nearly everything, which, so far as Vista Springs was concerned, was no problem. That’s what Vista Springs is specifically set up for; providing intensive care as needed and anticipated! It’s like Vista Springs can see around corners; they’ve been there before. In fact, the deciding factor to get Mom to consent to moving to assisted living was that she had gone nearly totally blind. OK, blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other; seriously.
After driving Mom to a number of facilities, she decided she had seen enough, and she would like to move into Vista Springs. At the time, we didn’t know just how good her choice was.
The final outcome was never in doubt. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, you’re probably going to die. However, Vista Springs works on your behalf to lead as full a life as possible for as long as you can. In Mom’s case, she moved in virtually blind. By getting botox shots in the eye socket, she gradually regained useful vision in one eye that lasted the rest of her life.
Mom also, all by herself, with no help from Vista Springs, fell and severely fractured her femur where it connected to her fake knee bone. After surgery, she required specialized nursing for several months at a brand X facility. Every day, a Vista Springs employee went to visit and check up on Mom for two reasons. First, it was to reassure Mom that she was still a valued resident in the Vista Springs community. Secondly, Vista Springs was subtly letting brand X know that their services were being monitored. With Vista Springs care, mom’s leg fully healed.
A third and more poignant incident occurred thirteen months before mom died. Mom quit breathing out the bad gasses; she was still oxygenating but dying at the same time (my best explanation). My wife got a phone call from the ER Physician informing her of Mom’s condition and urging her to withhold life support to her mother. My wife opted for life. The following day we were in Ohio. The hospice nurse informed us that Mom was down to hours or days to live, not weeks and months. We sat in her room and watched her mainly sleep for six days. Slowly but steadily, the Vista Springs nursing staff brought Mom back to life. Mom lived an additional thirteen months as a happy, well nourished, well cared for community member. The point of this entire paragraph is that Vista Springs staff didn’t just automatically accept downturns. They actively and successfully, in Mom’s case, reversed potentially fatal situations.
Death will eventually win in this life; but if you want a reliable cut man in your corner, I highly recommend Vista Springs. In Mom’s case, they’ve earned this endorsement. If Mom had demanded to die at home, she probably would have died in less than one unhappy year.
So, eventually, there will be a discussion about what service like that costs? I would add to the conversation that most of the staff at Vista Springs are long term employees; there seems to be little turnover there. The ratio of helpers to residents is crucial to prompt care. I assume that Vista Springs pays top dollar to attract top notch employees, and this does get passed on to the residents. I never saw a lazy, unmotivated employee at Vista Springs. It’s not unusual to see nurses or the executive director helping out at meal time in the dining room; they go where the people are. Service and care to the residents seem to be the first priority; period.
If you’ve actually read this letter this far, you’re probably serious about placing yourself or someone close to you in a care facility. I’ll just leave you with an analogy that will probably miss the mark. When I go to the store, I go to the bottom shelf where they keep the $5 and under bottles of wine. The $30 bottles of wine on the top shelf taste better than the cheap stuff because it's better wine. Good luck, and God bless!
Sorry, that brevity thing I promised was apparently a lie.