Ben Harmon from Marycrest

Respite Care Living at Marycrest | Connecting the Community

In this episode of Connecting the Community with Chris, Affinity CEO, Chris Zayid speaks with Ben Harmon and Zakia Baskin from Marycrest – Livonia’s premiere senior housing Life Plan Community, a full-service senior campus offering assisted and independent living apartments and services to local residents.

Watch the full podcast to learn more about:

  • What is a Respite Care Program.
  • Facilities available in a Respite Care Area.
  • Eligibility and all aspects related to staying in a Respite Care facility.
  • A quick tour of Marycrest.
Click to watch the complete podcast. The video includes a quick tour of Marycrest. Skip to 14:25 for the facility tour.

Watch the full podcast or read the transcript below (edited for brevity).

Chris: Today on Connecting the Community with Chris we have exciting guests – Ben Harmon and Zakia Baskin. Welcome to our show!

Welcome to our show Ben. I know how valuable you are here at Marycrest, and we wanted to learn a little bit more about you and Zakiya. So, tell us first Ben, about yourself and a little background history.

Ben: I have a degree in Pharmacy Administration and secondary education, and all of that schooling ended up directing me towards a career in Administration in first skilled nursing and assisted living, but eventually an independent living, and of course independent and assisted here. It’s been a blessing for about 12 years now serving in the non-profit and for-profit sector, serving seniors in the in the Livonia area.

Chris: That’s great. Well, we’re blessed to have you in the community. So, Zakia, I know how valuable you are here at Marycrest, and we’d like to learn more about you as well. Tell us a little bit about how you got here and what you do here.

Zakia: I’m currently a licensed practical nurse, and the past nine years I’ve been in the skilled rehab setting. Now I’m currently here in the assisted living as nurse manager.

Chris: Great. Wonderful. And I’d like to learn more about this facility and how valuable it is in Livonia area. And I know that a lot of people ask for Respite Care services, this is a newer program, but also true is – it’s not new in the healthcare world.

But not many people know about what Respite Care is? Can you help us explain what that truly means?

Zakiya: Yes. Respite care is basically a short-term stay, private pay, with the furnished room.

Chris: Okay, and how does someone become eligible actually to receive Respite Care?

Zakiya: As far as our target audience, we want to target definitely the people coming out of hospitals too soon, leaving the skilled rehab setting too soon, especially if it’s not safe, so they can come here and get extra care, extra therapy before going home. Also, hospice candidates who could get more support and care here than they could get it at their homes.

And then the Assisted Living community, possibly if they’re on a wait list waiting to get into an Assisted Living or maybe if their apartment isn’t ready in the Assisted Living area, so, they can come here and trial everything and see if they would enjoy it and like it.

Chris: So, what I’m getting to understand is that it’s a short-term stay but also, it’s a safe place to come to in case you know home is not the right place, whether it’s temporarily, and that there’s care here and everything they need that would be if they were at their home, they could have here as well.

Zakiya: Yes. Around the clock care, it’ll be a place where family would feel safe knowing that their loved one would be cared for.

Chris: That’s great. I think that was a truly good explanation of Respite Care. Is this private pay or is there long-term care plans involved with this? Ben, can you help us out with that?

Ben: It’s private pay. That’s the short answer. There are some supplementary services that could be available. So, somebody could get Outpatient Therapy Services here, they could get Hospice Services as Zakiya was talking about. A hospice client, they could have their Hospice Services come in and supplement the care, but yeah, it’s primarily private pay.

Chris: So, a family member is bringing their loved one here as well. So, what is the type of experience that a family member is going to be able to enroll their loved one and how are they going to first start out that process.

Ben: Great question. As Zakia said, we’re looking to serve folks who are maybe coming out of a rehab center, out of a hospital, needing some additional support. We all know that those rehab stays are shortening, right? And so, people, they need more support, more help coming out of rehab, or folks who are on Hospice Services. But in either case, people who need more care than they can reasonably get at home and who don’t want to pay the high price tag for a one-on-one caregiver in their home, can come to an environment like this, receive support for a few weeks.

The experience the family would have is, reaching out, having a tour of the campus – it is an independent living solution, so there is a 24-hour care provider on site, so, the families would interact with the care provider, the care provider would talk about the custom package that will be in place, supporting their loved one around the clock, and then while they’re on campus, while the senior is on campus, they would have all three meals, they would have their utilities paid for, they have access to the wellness center, the chapel – we’re sitting in the chapel now, all the amenities and I’m sure we’ll get into all that, but yeah, the family would come, have a tour, sign a short-term agreement and then everything will be provided while their loved one was here.

Chris: So, you mean to tell me, I’m going on vacation with my family and I’m worried about my mom, my dad and the best avenue is that, if home is not the right place, I can bring them here?

Ben: Short time yeah. That’s what respite really is. What maybe the market would understand is a long-term Assisted Living solution, but it’s a short term. So, we want to try it or we need support for a short period of time for one reason or another, maybe it’s somebody who’s on their way back home, they just need some more support for a little bit or like you said, somebody is going on a vacation, or end of life and the care needs have kind of exceeded what the family can accommodate at home.

Chris: So, say long-term care, short-term care, let’s get into it. Can somebody actually stay here around the clock, and also receive care too? Say they want a home care provider to come in here and they have their own home care providers to follow them into this facility, can they actually receive that level of care here?

Zakiya: Yes, yes, they can.

Chris: That’s great. So, around the clock care, have your own caregiver come with you, you know that’s such a great avenue. That way the environment from their home, the caregiver they’re receiving care from can actually come here and they feel comfortable with that. So, you can Outsource your own care in this own facility.

Ben: Sure thing.

Chris: And you also have your own care providers as well too.

Ben: So, it’s easy for families. A lot of families wouldn’t necessarily have that connection with the private duty agency that they know or that they trust. So, that’s here, we have that already in place. But like you said, sometimes family wants to be intimately involved in the care for one reason or another, maybe it’s a cost issue, but the family can be a part of that solution as much or as little as they want.

Chris: Family members that come here, I know it has to be super valuable for them to have their loved one be here, and so I want to dive into what are the benefits for the family members when they drop their mom and their dad here and they can walk away and feel comfortable? I know there’s a lot of activities that you have here, so that makes them feel like, “Hey, listen, they’re going to be okay.”

For example, I know that you have physical therapy and there’s a great restaurant here. Can you dive into all the amenities that you offer?

Zakiya: Yes. So, we definitely want family members to feel like they could be very much involved in the care here. We do have a Wellness Center, where they could come, and we have a seating area where they can sit and watch their loved one participate in therapy and sort of see what they’re doing and how they’re working out. We also have The Lakes. It’s called The Lakes, it’s our restaurant here, where they can come and eat a nice meal with their family whenever they want. We have planned activities through our Life Enrichment program.

Chris: That’s great and I know that there’s individual attention that people can have and lots of socialization that’s involved as well too. Can you explain a little bit about that?

Ben: There’s plenty of data that looks at how social isolation impacts people, right? So being with other people, eating meals with other people, having activities with other people, exercise classes, games, anything, where you’re with other people that stimulates. Eating – that stimulates health, stimulates Mental Health.

So, being part of a social environment even if it’s just for a short time can have huge impact for people and we hope that folks come and experience that positive environment and maybe want more of it.

Chris: I mean number one for me is, for my parents, I want them to have peace of mind I want to know they’re in the right place and they’re comfortable being here. A great environment I think is the first steppingstone for receiving great care in our community and the Health Care system. Now, everyone wants their loved one to feel safe and have security here too.

What type of safety and security measures do you offer here?

Ben: The building is locked down 24/7. When somebody enters the community, they have to go through a screening process to come in. So, first and foremost you know, we’re still in a time where there’s sickness that can impact people’s lives significantly, so we want to screen folks, make sure there’s not a temperature, make sure there’s not a Covid exposure, but we also understand that we are social creatures and in addition to socializing with other people in our peer group, we need those family interactions, so allowing family members to come in and interact with their loved ones at a time that’s comfortable for them. We think that’s super important, so we adhere to the screening to make sure we’re keeping things as safe as possible. And then, we rely on people to be responsible with their visiting choices and we want to promote as much healthy socialization as possible because people need it.

Chris: That’s great. So, you could come and see your parents here and also to expect that if you do leave, they’re going to be well taken care of and also have activities involved with, where they can feel happy and safe and sleep at night.

Now, I always worry about a loved one who has memory loss. I know there’s different facilities that allow that type of person to be there. Do you handle clients or patients that have memory loss?

Ben: The situation with memory loss, it’s tricky right. If somebody is a wander risk or a flight risk, that’s a little bit more difficult to manage and so we would look at that when somebody was coming into the respite area. But there are other folks with Dementia or cognitive decline that are not a flight risk, they’re not a risk to leave unsafely and certainly that’s not an issue for the care team to provide assistance with. We are able to accommodate a number of issues in our Assisted Living Area. That’s a separate conversation, but for the respite program, if somebody is a wanderer potential, that’s something that’s a little more difficult to manage.

Chris: And let’s dive into wandering. Can you explain to us Zakia, what does wandering really mean?

Zakia: I know you might have heard a word called sundowning. Typically, in the evening, where a resident might get more confused, and they might want to try to exit the building or simply maybe, always getting up out of their chairs or out of the bed. So, definitely we would want to take that into consideration, but it’s definitely something that we could possibly manage.

Chris: Typically, how long can someone stay here? For example, can it be two weeks, three weeks, days?

Zakiya: We work off a two-week contract. So, 14 days. On the 12th day we would ask notice if they were going to stay or decide to leave and it’s just an automatic renewal.

Chris: Okay. So, it’s completely their decision if they want to stay or if they want to go back home, so there’s no pressure at all.

Zakiya: No

Chris: That’s wonderful. I really think that’s so valuable in our community.

Now, if someone were to inquire about respite care and they wanted just to learn a little bit more about it and want to contact you, what’s the best way to be able for them to start this process and actually learn about coming to Marycrest.

Ben: Calling our front desk – 734-743-4000. Just calling the front desk and asking about respite program is a great way to start. We’d be able to answer some questions over the phone. If folks wanted to come in for a tour and see the campus in person, would show them the wellness center, show them the restaurant, show them the chapel, show them the property. We have some awesome outside areas as well. But really just starting the conversation, we would want to know kind of what the situation is, how long they would need support for or in the very beginning Zakia talked quite a bit about Trial stays and we think there’s a lot of people that maybe would like to see what Independent Living or Assisted Living are like, but the commitments that are available in the marketplace are too much for them to try to take that on, so, if somebody wanted to do some kind of trial stay, maybe they didn’t have any needs at all, but they want to see what it’s like to be part of a community for a little bit. We have some people here doing that now.

Chris: And they could bring their care provider with them too.

Ben: Or if they don’t need care, we have folks here that are totally independent, that want to be in independent living, within as part of a community, they’re eating their meals in the restaurant we have, they’re living here in our respite area.

The cost is, with meals included, utilities and everything else, it’s comparable to a rental apartment maybe. So, it’s affordable but they’re getting to try what that social, communal environment is like.

Chris: That’s great. Thank you for joining us here on our podcast show – Connecting the Community with Chris. You guys are super valuable here in the city of Livonia. I know that if I had my parents and they would be somewhere, I would definitely bring them to Ben and Zakia. Thank you for spending time with me.

Zakia: You’re welcome. Thanks for having us.

Ben: Thank you.

Ben and Chris take a tour of the property, starting with the Chapel Area, followed by Marycrest’s The Lakes: Marycrest’s Gourmet Restaurant.

Chris: So, we’re here at The Lakes. Thanks, Ben, for having me. It’s the restaurant at the Marycrest. Tell me a little bit about this place.

Ben: You’re welcome my friend. The Lakes is a public restaurant. We have public license here, so we service folks from Independent Living, we service folks from Assisted Living, the families, staff, and then definitely folks who live in the area, they’re welcome to come here and have a meal, 11:30 am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, and then 12 pm to 5:30 pm on the weekend. So, public meal, have a great menu, main entree options, then handheld stuff like burgers and hot dogs and chicken wings and a whole variety of things.

Chris: That’s great. I’ve been here, I love it and I would highly recommend anybody come here, bring your parents here.

Ben and Chris then visit Marycrest’s Physical Therapy Facility.

Ben: Welcome to the wellness center. We are so fortunate; in this environment I have a state-of-the-art Wellness Center. We at one time had Rehab Services on this campus, which is why we have such a beautiful space, but when we closed down the rehab operation, we were left with this fantastic space to provide Outpatient Therapy Services, Wellness services. As part of the exercise classes, they can do exercise on their own using the bikes or the treadmill or anything they put that in here.

Come on in and take a look around.

Ben and Chris explore Marycrest’s Rehabilitation Pool.

Chris: Tell us a little bit about water therapy that you offer here.

Ben: We have a pool here, a therapy pool. People can get Aqua therapy classes, they can use the therapy pool for strengthening exercises, for anything in there.

Next, they tour Marycrest’s Respite Care Rooms

Chris: This is an example of a room where someone would stay. How many rooms are like this in the building?

Ben: Right now, we have about 24 that we could use. We could open more if we had enough folks that saw our podcast and wanted to come. But the rooms come fully furnished, like you see this one here – a bed, a chair, a nightstand, lamp, there’s the full bathroom with a shower here, TV with a nice cable package.

Chris: Great and handicap accessible bathroom I’m assuming as well over here.

So, safety is number one here as a priority. You want them to have much space for them to be able to live, but also want to be able to prevent fall risk as well.

Ben: Yep. That’s what the barn doors on the bathroom are for. They slide to the side of course, so that no one can fall and get stuck on either side. There’s easy access to both get in and out, plenty of space, barrier-free bathroom, walk-in shower.