“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 created a home for seniors who, once inducted, automatically become members of her own extended family.
The idea, which was born from an encounter with a stranger at the bank, who expressed his wish for a home away from home, saw Kennedy-McKenzie transform part of his house to allow for an establishment of 25 beds with 24 nursing staff. .
“The original intention was to provide supported and independent living, but seniors age and their needs change over time. We used to have short stays for people who needed respite, people recovering from surgery and not ready to go home, but we also have residents with total health needs and residents who have been here for up to 12 years…” says Kennedy-McKenzie
From birthday parties to mini-musicals, special excursions, nature walks and gardening activities, residents can be seen at Ken Health Care Home living and loving it despite whatever ailments they may have.
But among holistic home care activities, there is an emphasis on spirituality.
“We try to offer as comprehensive a care approach as possible[…]. We use talk therapy, reminiscence therapy, dance therapy and worship. Even though some residents are not Christians or belong to any faith group, they enjoy worship time, which is an integral part of our ritual here. Every day at a quarter to six is worship time, and we pull out our tambourines and we pull out our maracas and we tell them to bring their voicemail when they come in,” she said. laughing.
Kennedy-McKenzie said that through their participation, harmony is further maintained in the home and that residents, even in advanced stages of dementia, have the opportunity to experience renewed conviction and express their faith with lucidity.
“…When we ask them to pray, they remember the act of prayer, they remember that they are talking to God and that they are not doing it alone but in community, and they are asking God to bless people who take care of them and the people who are with them. Adoration leaves you deeply touched. I’ve seen people reconcile their own accounts with God here…” she said.
Kennedy-McKenzie said not only was her home blessed with seniors whose presence and fun spirit uplifted the space, but she was blessed to have had three centenarians, including her late father, who was up and about three months before his death.
“Our youngest resident is 65, and has been with us for three years, and our oldest client, Winnifred Hendricks, turned 105 on December 23, 2021, and has been with us since 2010. Miss Winnifred was the postwoman from the Spalding Post Office … . She is very charming, very refined and very convincing and always shares her stories mainly on the post.
House manager Beryl Gordon says she remembers Hendricks’ spirit quite often and is always happy to engage with the other residents.
“When we serve meals, we normally tell them to pray. I remember one day Miss Winni didn’t want to eat, and she said, ‘Lord, thank you for this food that I won’t get’…” Gordon said with hearty laughter.
“Seniors are really like children. They’ll tell you that’s how it is, and you really just have to laugh…. I remember a nurse wearing a wig for the first time, and one of the residents said, “Nurse, the wig doesn’t suit you…. Dem nuh you say?’ They’re going to tell you as is,” Gordon added, laughing even more.
In addition to the laughter medicine that often fills wards, Kennedy-McKenzie said there was also a physical therapist, an in-house massage therapist, and organic foods were prepared whenever possible and used as medicine.
“We raise our own chickens, so we have our own eggs. We produce our own honey. I prepare all the seasonings for the herbs we plant…. I imagine that one of these days I may need care, and human dignity is very important to me. It’s not just the length of life, it’s the quality of life. They should feel loved, pampered, [be] well fed, nourished. The environment must enrich them.