As we grapple with COVID-19, let’s remember that faith and love are vital components of healing

Two women sitting next to each other

There is a healing science associated with touch, from reducing stress hormones to increasing levels of melatonin and serotonin.


Editor’s note: This article was written by Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes and originally posted in The Dallas Morning News as part of their ongoing opinion commentary on faith, called Living Our Faith. 

I believe in the healing power of science and medicine. I also believe in the healing power of love and faith. They are not diametrically opposed when caring for those who are sick and the most at-risk.

We are half a year into the coronavirus pandemic. In those six months, we have learned a lot about the virus, from how it is transmitted to COVID-19 symptoms and testing. The country’s top health officials now believe an approved vaccine is right around the corner.

During this period, we have also learned a lot about the human soul, or at least we validated what many of us already knew. People need people. There is a healing science associated with touch, from reducing stress hormones to increasing levels of melatonin and serotonin. The University of Miami even created an entire research institute to study the effects of touch therapy. There is an emotional and spiritual healing that comes with a human connection.

Our faith is also a vital component of healing. It’s easy to recall the biblical images of lone figures like Jonah and Moses discovering strength in their faith through solitude, but let us not forget there is a reason God sent Jesus to earth in the flesh, what theologians call the Incarnation. For many of us, faith grows stronger through fellowship. Companionship reminds us that we are loved by others as well as by God.

Thousands of our fellow Texans are missing those reminders that they are loved. Many senior adults residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are faced with a second pandemic — one brought on by isolation and loneliness. Senior living communities have been closed to visitors since mid-March and even recent policies aimed at a slow, safe reopening do not offer a real solution.

Isolation and environmental sterilization are easier solutions to propose when not personally impacted by the virus, but with more than half a million Texans testing positive for COVID-19, the odds of being personally impacted are increasing. I used to be insulated from the impact of the virus. Now I’m not.

Read the rest of the article in The Dallas Morning News.

Buckner Retirement Services Receives Third Great Place to Work Certification Despite Global Pandemic

Open positions are available at all six Buckner communities around Texas, from healthcare to hospitality.

best place to work awardDallas, Texas (July 29, 2020)Buckner Retirement Services has received its third Great Place to Work certification by the Great Place to Work Institute. The certification process considered more than 1,000 employee surveys from across Buckner’s six senior living communities in Texas. In a time where senior health care employees and staff are working extra hard to mitigate risks for their residents, the certification is evidence of the positive environment fostered throughout Buckner Retirement Services.

Great Place to Work, an independent research and consulting firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included employee pride in the organization’s community impact, belief that their work makes a difference, and feeling their work has special meaning. Rankings are based on employees’ experiences, no matter who they are or what they do.

“We applaud Buckner Retirement Services for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Kung, of Great Place to Work’s senior care affiliate Activated Insights. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace for high performance.”

Highlighted in the recognition is the quote from one Buckner employee, who wrote, “The organization is a team. We work together all the time. The upper management works well with mid management and they work well with front line staff. When there is an issue, opportunity or problem the team comes together and resolves or solves the issue. I have never worked for a company that has a team that enjoys working together more than Buckner”

BRS communities include Buckner Parkway Place in Houston, Buckner Villas in Austin, Buckner Calder Woods in Beaumont, Buckner Westminster Place in Longview, Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo and Ventana by Buckner in Dallas.

“Our team is what makes the difference in the quality of service we provide residents,” said Buckner Retirement Services Senior Vice President Charlie Wilson. “Through the duration of the current pandemic, our residents can see their passion and drive for providing exceptional care in all areas of the community. At the end of the day, we want to inspire happiness for our residents as well as our staff, even in the most unprecedented times.”

This certification comes at a time when essential business jobs are difficult to come by. All Buckner Retirement Services locations are currently hiring for a variety of positions, many of which are not temporary. There are open positions in the fields of culinary services, housekeeping, maintenance, wellness and nursing.

For the full list of available positions, click here.

About Buckner Retirement Services, Inc.:

Buckner Retirement Services is a nonprofit senior living organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving more than 350,000 people each year in Texas and six countries worldwide. For more information, visit BucknerRetirement.org.

Information Contact:

Christopher Ruth
Director of Media Relations
Buckner International
630-536-9139 (cell)
cruth@buckner.org

 

Buckner Retirement Services residents weigh in on pandemic impact

seniors-agree-with-social-distancing-measures (1)

According to a recent survey conducted by Buckner Retirement Services, 96% of senior living residents agree with social distancing and visitation restrictions in place. The survey was distributed to 140 senior adults living across six different Buckner Retirement communities in Texas in early May. The anonymous survey results provide a look into the communities and show how senior adults feel about current safety policies, how they are spending their time and what they feel are the most inconvenient parts of the pandemic.

In the survey, residents were asked what they do for free time during the pandemic. The top answers were 74% are reading, 29% are napping and 63% can be found on the phone with loved ones.

More than 75% of seniors surveyed listed family visits as something they miss most. Other top activities missed within the communities include going to church (56%) and group dining (54%).

how-seniors-are-staying-connected (1)

Additionally, residents were asked about inconveniences brought on by the pandemic; they listed wearing masks, visitation restrictions and a lack of group activities as their top answers. Due to the visitation restrictions, senior adults are staying connected to loved ones in a variety of ways. The survey covers the ways they are communicating with family and friends such as letters, texting, social media and video calls.

When it comes to video chatting, 55% admitted they never used the technology before shelter-in-place orders. However, 52% of residents plan to continue using the technology beyond pandemic circumstances.

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“We understand how difficult it is for our residents and their family members and friends to be physically apart during the pandemic, so our goal with the survey and infographic was to provide everyone outside our communities with some more insight,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

“The survey results and infographic help show how residents are staying connected and spending their time, as well as how they feel overall. We are so appreciative of everyone across Texas working together to help protect one of our most vulnerable populations during this pandemic.”

Senior living residents are in turn appreciative for the staff caring for them each day, as senior living staff was one of the top answers to the question, “What are you most thankful for?”

seniors-spending-time-readin (1)

All Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13, as well as thorough employee screening procedures. All protocols are consistent with guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and PreventionCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Download a PDF of the full infographic with additional information.

Car parade boost senior adults’ spirits

white car decorated for a parade

After weeks of sheltering in place and practicing social distancing measures, most people are ready for some person-to-person interaction. No more so than the senior adults living in Buckner senior living communities.

On March 13, Buckner Retirement Services made the decision to implement visitor restrictions across all six of its Texas senior living communities. Since that time, Buckner staff has worked with residents and their family members to implement creative ways to stay in communication, such as utilizing video conference platforms,

The creativity stepped up a notch with the introduction of car parades.

Friends and family decorated cars and signs and rode by the communities, hanging out car windows waving and cheering to the seniors and staff who stepped outside to view the parade.

Nurse and elderly woman enjoying a parade

Buckner staff continued to follow strict social distancing and PPE protocols while helping residents come outside to watch the parade. At some locations, the parade was also visible through window views to senior adults residing in portions of the community’s independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing apartments.

elderly man and woman hold signs up for a parade

“I am constantly in awe of the sacrifice each of our residents is making to help keep each other safe,” said David Sims, executive director at Buckner Westminster Place. “And I am beyond proud of every one of our associates, who continue to care for our residents. Senior living employees are on the frontline of our nation’s response to the pandemic, and every single one of them is a hero.”

The parades are one way friends and family members could show their support and love for seniors, as well as the frontline workers taking care of them.

Elderly senior living residents line up to watch a parade

In Longview, more than 80 cars participated in Buckner Westminster Place’s car parade, and the joy was undeniable and contagious. Smiles erupted from all who watched the exuberant procession.

large blue sign that says "heroes work here"

You can show your support for seniors without ever leaving your home. Go gold for seniors and display a gold ribbon outside your home during the month of May and June to help increase awareness for senior living residents and the frontline workers caring for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buckner Launches Gold Ribbon Campaign in Support of Senior Living

Texans can show their support for senior adults and employees of senior living communities by displaying a gold ribbon outside their homes.

Buckner is going gold for senior living, and everyone is invited!

In order to increase awareness of senior living residents and the frontline workers caring for them during the COVID-19 pandemic, Buckner Retirement Services is launching a ribbon campaign titled Going Gold for Senior Living. Buckner has communities in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Angelo, Longview and Beaumont, and residents of each city are encouraged to show their support of senior living communities by displaying a gold ribbon outside their homes during the months of May and June.

All six Buckner senior living communities across Texas hosted drive-thru ribbon pick-up events on Monday, May 11 for family members of residents and staff. Three to six-foot pieces of gold ribbon were distributed.

National campaigns such as Light it Blue have asked others to show support for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, but healthcare workers is a broad category that includes hospitals, emergency responders, clinics, and senior living communities.

By launching the Going Gold for Senior Living campaign, Buckner is focusing specifically on the senior living workers – from nurses to dining services, maintenance, administration and more. Each of these jobs is integral in mitigating risk for residents.

Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services, said he is proud of the work and service by his staff, and thankful for the continuation of support from residents as social distancing measures continue.

“The health and safety of our staff and residents are of utmost importance to us,” said Wilson. “All of our associates are a shining example of what it means to be selfless and inspire happiness in the lives of senior adults. As one of the most vulnerable populations, our residents sacrifice family visits to help reduce risks for their neighbors. By displaying a gold ribbon outside your home, you can recognize the selfless actions and personal sacrifices made by senior living residents and staff.”

It is Wilson’s hope that other senior living communities and nursing facilities across Texas and the U.S. will join in the gold ribbon campaign.

“We are committed to generating awareness through the Going Gold Ribbon campaign across the state of Texas and nationally. Whether you have a family member or friend residing or working in a senior living community, or you just want to show your appreciation and support, we hope you’ll join us and go gold,” said Wilson.

All Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13, as well as thorough employee screening procedures. All protocols are consistent with guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Anyone who would like to support senior living communities is encouraged to purchase gold ribbon from local craft stores while following social distancing regulations and practicing personal hygiene when in public. Gold ribbon is also available through online retailers.

BRS Now Hiring

As cities and counties around Texas and the U.S. move to shelter-in-place policies to combat COVID-19, operations of non-essential businesses are limited. As a result, people in the hospitality industry are looking for temporary work, prompting Buckner Retirement Services to spread the word it is hiring.

Buckner is the largest faith-based nonprofit provider of senior living communities in Texas with communities in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Beaumont, San Angelo and Longview. All six communities are hiring.

There are open positions in the fields of culinary services, housekeeping, maintenance, wellness and nursing. “If you have hospitality industry or service industry experience, such as restaurants, schools, childcare, hotels, retail or healthcare, we want you to join our team,” said Brian Robbins, vice president of BRS.

An article by USA Today, reports that if the outbreak worsens, approximately 24% of employers plan to downsize beyond the temporary suspension of jobs.

Senior living communities are essential businesses because they care for one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19, senior adults. Communities like Buckner Villas in Austin and Calder Woods in Beaumont require around-the-clock staff to care for residents.

“Our teams at each Buckner community are heroes,” said Robbins, “And we want to continue to provide them the support they need in order to give our residents the best care possible. We need to make sure our employment in each community is at capacity so everyone has the opportunity to rest and recharge.”

Buckner is not just looking for temporary employees, Robbins said. “If someone comes to us from the restaurant industry and only wants to work with our dining teams for a couple of months until the world returns to normal, that’s fine. But I strongly hope people will consider the long-term career potential Buckner and the senior living industry offers.

“Whether you cook or serve food, maintain our facilities, clean rooms, or practice medicine, joining our team will provide you with a true mission and a passion for making a difference in the lives of our residents.”

In addition to utilizing job boards and Buckner social media pages, Robbins is turning to the news media to help alert Texans about Buckner job opportunities. He was interviewed by KXAN in Austin about the value of employment in senior living, as well as news stations in Longview and Beaumont.

Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Buckner has worked diligently to mitigate risks to staff and residents by following guidelines and policies outlined by the CDC, CMS and local and state government. This same caution and meticulousness will apply to job candidates, as preliminary interviews will be carried out through phone and video conferencing platforms, while in-person candidates will be tested and surveyed prior to entering the building. Some interviews may even happen outdoors, weather permitting.

For more information about Buckner Retirement Services, visit BucknerRetirement.org; for a list of job openings go to Buckner.org/Careers and search by community.

Chaplains Adopt Creative Ways to Share Hope in Shadow of the Coronavirus

By Russ Dilday

Chaplain John BenderThe LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Chaplain John Bender recites Psalm 23, ageless words of comfort in times of fear or threat. As he pauses, he looks up to his listeners, residents of Buckner Parkway Place in Houston. A single camera lens stares back at him. He’s delivering his message on Parkway Place’s closed-circuit television system.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Like each chaplain at all six Buckner Retirement Services Communities, Bender is seeking creative ways to share messages of faith, hope and comfort in the wake of social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus.

Since the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape in the United States, Americans have responded with measures that range from social distancing to canceling large-scale gatherings to even city-wide lockdowns.

Nowhere have these safety measures been more critical than among the senior adult population, deemed by most health-related entities as the group most at risk for contracting the coronavirus.

Buckner, following standards set by the Center for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, took quick action to ensure the health of residents and staff, limiting outside access to only essential health care providers as well as promoting distance between each resident internally.

While the safety strategies created distance from potential harm, they also created distance from residents’ churches, community worship meetings and each other for groups larger than 10. It’s a situation that might seem to lessen residents’ hope, but the chaplains are fighting the coronavirus threat in their own unique way – from the soul.

“I have encouraged residents to read Psalm 23 every day because of its familiarity as well as the message that God is walking with us,” Bender said.

Spreading message of hope and comfort is key to reinforcing residents’ faith, he said.

“Each conversation I have is salted with the concept that ‘We have faith in our God. This crisis did not catch him by surprise.”

Chaplain Daniel Carpenter of Buckner Calder Woods in Beaumont echoed Bender’s approach.

“I have spoken to several people about the sovereignty of God. I also try to get them to think of all the ways God has provided for them and protected them up to this point,” he added. “And I’m talking a lot about anxiety. I’ve been using Philippians 4 as a launching point to talk to them about faith and the presence of Jesus in their lives.”

But to reach their flocks, the group must come up with creative ways to spread that word and meet constituents’ needs.

“We normally have two to three people from our campus in the hospital every day and I typically visit them there, but now the hospital, as of today, has limited their visitation and I can no longer go to see them,” said Chaplain Kevin McSpadden of Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo. “Now I just call our residents and talk with them over the phone.”

He noted that while the independent living Sunday morning chapel service has been canceled, he recently learned how to broadcast live services on YouTube and will be using that technology to reach residents.

“I still do a worship service and a sit-down Bible study at our Sagecrest Alzheimer’s facility,” he said. “Both of the open area pods at Sagecrest are very large and we literally spread the people out and go on with our services. At both Sagecrest and The Crest, volunteers can no longer come in to help me with the music, but I manage to make everything work with music on my laptop.”

David Mann, chaplain for Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, also adopted the “spread out” social distancing approach, modified even further by the 10-person-per-room limit.

“Yesterday’s worship service was interesting here at Ventana,” he explained. “We signed up the members who wanted to attend in increments of 10 and had four worship services, at 2:30, 3, 3:30 and 4. Needless to say, I was very tired afterward and our poor pianist was exhausted as well.”

Rick Webb, chaplain for Buckner Westminister Place in Longview, acknowledges the importance of smaller chapel services since many churches have had to cancel services.

“I am leading it myself – music and message – so no outside person is engaged,” Webb said, noting he is taking additional precautions to lessen the possibility of exposure to residents. “I am limiting my life to Buckner and home and no other people than Westminster Place and my family.”

In addition to altering his personal life, Webb is also adapting technology to reach his residents.

“The technology is being adapted so I can post devotionals and encouragement to the residents via the in-house cable television system. Along with that medium, I have repeatedly given them my cell phone number as an on-call resource and encourage them to call.”

Carpenter has also been playing guitar and singing for residents who can’t leave their rooms and to help calm nerves heightened by isolation or fear.

“There is a spectrum of response here,” Carpenter said. “Many residents are starting to get cabin fever, but some of them like being isolated. Some are sitting at their doors in the hallway so they can talk to neighbors across the hall. Some are fearful. Most are understanding (of the safety measures that have been put into place).”

In addition to ministry to residents, each chaplain noted their ministries seek to reach staff members as well.

Mann encouraged Ventana associates to continue living out the Buckner Retirement Services mantra of “Inspiring happiness” while serving others.

Mann shared a prayer with the group and reminded them that “as we become open to each day at hand, and its challenges, may we remember that we are called and equipped (every position is a sacred vocation); may we step forward with a non-anxious presence and seek to learn, teach, and lead by example. May the Holy Spirit grant us abundant resource for the journey!”

“I have been going around visiting with staff, listening to them and empathizing where I can,” echoed Carpenter. “A lot of them are anxious too, so I try to calm their fears and cheer them up. I have also offered to help them in any way that I can if they seem stressed.”

Ministering to staff, though, also includes time to renew and minister to themselves and their families amid their own concerns.

“It’s definitely causing some stress and anxiety in my home,” Carpenter said. “I have two young boys and a third boy on the way. The hovering threat of a shelter-in-place scenario is a frequent concern. My wife is due in 10 weeks, so the thought of being separated from them for up to eight weeks is not a pleasant one.”

“The only thing that has made a change in my life is the unknowing of if or when we will go into on-campus quarantine” said Bender. “The ministry has not changed here other than it is a more focused work. But the unknowing of if I will return home at night has an impact on my family.”

Coronavirus: Life Inside Our Senior Living Communities

To reduce the risks to the health and wellbeing of senior adults residing at our communities and minimize exposure to COVID-19, Buckner Retirement Services implemented a limited access visitation policy. However, we understand the concern and uncertainty the loved ones of our residents must be feeling.

We asked the leaders at our communities in Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Houston, Longview and San Angelo to provide some insight into their residents’ wellbeing and what life is like as we work together to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus while continuing to inspire happiness in their lives.

What is the overall atmosphere like in the community? How is the morale of our senior adults?

“Our residents have been very positive about the steps we are taking to protect their health and safety. They have many questions, but they are valid concerns and questions that need consideration. We are taking the time to sit down and explain our measures on a one-to-one level as well as working to communicate to the whole community.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Most of our residents are understanding and supportive. Some are a bit apprehensive about the unusual circumstances, justifiably so, but we are doing everything possible to explain the reason for the changes and to ensure they are comfortable during the process. Overall, life within our walls is normal, as we are just trying to reduce the outside world coming in for now.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“We are keeping everything upbeat and positive with a business-as-usual attitude, and the overall attitude of our residents is positive as a result. Many residents and family members are expressing their appreciation for the professional way we are watching out for them during a difficult time.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Our Members have been extremely understanding and appreciative of our efforts to keep the community safe. Most of them are media savvy, and they are not surprised by the decisions we’ve made in light of the news. They are calm and feel safe, and many have said they would rather be at Ventana than their former homes.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

“There has been an overall welcoming and appreciative response to the measures put in place. Our residents understand that the protocols were put in place to keep them healthy and safe.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

Are residents continuing to socialize within the community or are they staying in their rooms?

“I have not noticed a change in the atmosphere. Our residents are going about their social day per usual while our staff ensures every precaution is taken to keep our common areas clean.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“Residents are finding a balance between practicing safe social distancing while also making sure to still talk and laugh with each other and with our team members.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

How are residents staying connected with their friends and family during the limited access visitation policy?

“We are working to set up some technology stations to help people connect with family and friends through social media and video calling platforms like FaceTime and Skype.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Many of the residents are updating family through text messages and others enjoy talking on their cell phones using the speakerphone. Some use Facebook and keep in touch by looking at pictures posted by family members. One resident has a USB picture frame, and her son sends her family photos to load on her frame. It runs constantly.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Telephone calls seem to be the preferred way residents are communicating with their family and friends, but some are also using FaceTime capabilities on their phones or tablets as well as sending emails and texts.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

Has there been any change to community activities or groups?

“As a precaution, we canceled any of the activities led by volunteers from outside the community as well as group outings off campus like a luncheon and a trip to the Houston Holocaust Museum. As of March 14, we’ve also suspended in-house group activities while ensuring our residents have an abundance of individual options to keep them engaged.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are working hard to keep life within the community as normal as possible, but for the safety of our residents, we have suspended our group activities and classes.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

Are the dining rooms and restaurants still operating normally? Are residents eating in the community areas?

“In order to mirror the policies implemented on a local, state and national level, our dining facilities are now delivering meals to our residents’ rooms.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Our dining team is hard at work to ensure residents have our full menu available to them in the comfort of their own rooms. It’s like a hotel.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“Even before we had to update our dining policy and close the dining rooms, we noticed a shift in the number of residents opting to have their meals delivered to their apartments. It’s good to see that we are all on the same page when it comes to ensuring their health and safety is the number one priority.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed?

“Residents are communicating with staff and asking questions about protocols but staying calm and going about their usual business. The staff is here to answer all of their questions, and we are taking the time to be there for them and their families.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are doing everything possible to increase our communication to residents and their family members so everyone is comfortable during an unusual time. This includes letters, emails, in-person discussions and townhall meetings.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“The most noticeable change is obviously the lack of outside people on our campus due to our limitation policy. We are also screening all approved visitors, staff and vendors, and we’ve closed our thrift shop. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for our residents as we all work together to protect the community.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

“The biggest changes are on the operations side of things with how our team has prepared. I’m not seeing much change with our Members, which is a sign we are doing our jobs well.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

Limited Access Visitation Policy Effective 3/13/2020

For Immediate Release:

Buckner Retirement Services Implements Limited Access Visitation Policy

Temporary policy adheres to CMS guidelines and is effective March 13 at noon for Buckner Villas, Parkway Place, Ventana by Buckner, Calder Woods, Westminster Place and Baptist Retirement Community.

DALLAS (March 12, 2020) – Buckner Retirement Services will implement a limited access visitation policy as a safety measure against the rapid advance of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. The limited access policy is effective Friday, March 13 at noon and will apply to BRS’s six communities, including Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

The temporary visitation policy follows guidelines proved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They include the limitation of visitors within the communities except for end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the resident’s emotional well-being and care.

To read the full CMS guidelines, click here.

BRS employees began notifying residents and resident family members regarding the new guidelines on Wednesday, March 11 via in-person conversations, phone calls, printed letters, emails and the community website and Facebook pages.

“We are aware that this limited access poses an inconvenience to our residents and their friends and family, but we are committed to doing everything reasonably possible to protect our residents and the Buckner team members who work at our communities. This decision was not taken lightly, however, we believe it is in the best interests of everyone,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

When visitors meeting the approved criteria come to any BRS community, they will have their temperature taken and asked screening questions about their current health condition and recent travel as a further level of protection for residents and staff.

Once the limited access policy takes effect on March 13, BRS team members under the direction of the community’s executive director will be available to assist residents with any needs normally taken care of by visitors.

Communication with its residents and team members is a priority for BRS. Leadership continues to monitor the situation regarding coronavirus and is working to continually educate residents and staff regarding guidelines issued by the Texas Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control.

Specifically, Buckner Retirement Services is:

  1. Activating its Emergency Preparedness and Operations teams at each of the six campuses and holding a regular conference call with the teams from the six campuses. This process includes coordinating with local first responders and health care facilities in case emergency response for a resident or staff is necessary.
  2. Reviewing the Emergency Preparedness Manual and re-educating staff about infectious disease policies and procedures.
  3. Reviewing the BRS infection control protocol, inventorying supplies, and preparing employees through information and education.
  4. Launching a communications campaign internally for all stakeholders, including signs and posters in all communities. These safety-themed posters contain specific information about stopping the spread of germs and viruses.
  5. Directing staff exhibiting signs of sickness to stay home.
  6. Communicating with residents and family members that Buckner is taking this seriously and that we are taking every reasonable precaution.

“These extraordinary measures are intended to protect all of us,” said Wilson. “We will re-evaluate this limited access policy regularly and notify our residents immediately of any changes.”

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About Buckner Retirement Services, Inc.:

Buckner Retirement Services is a nonprofit senior living organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving more than 350,000 people each year in Texas and six countries worldwide. For more information, visit BucknerRetirement.org.

Information Contact:

Christopher Ruth

Director of Media Relations

Buckner International

630-536-9139 (cell)

cruth@buckner.org

Married Couples Residing in Senior Living Communities

married senior coupleThere is a common misconception that senior living communities are where senior adults move when they have no one left and no other options, but that is far from the truth. In fact, senior living communities are ideal for married couples, who now have more time to focus on their relationship and enjoy their time together, especially when a loved one requires additional care.

All around Buckner Retirement Services’ communities, you’ll find married couples dining together, participating in community sponsored clubs and events, or going for a walk and holding hands. About one-third of the residents at most of the communities are married, though the number is much higher at the newest community, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas. There 86% of the Members are married.

Moving into a senior living community helps free a couple from the weight of household obligations, allowing them to focus on their relationship and re-connecting. But for couples where one person is experiencing serious health issues, the convenience of a senior living community offers so much more.

Jerry Jefferson is 87. She lives at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo with her husband, Ross, 88. The couple moved to BRC in 2013, and up until recently, they lived together in an independent living home.

Ross was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. Jerry was able to manage caring for him at first, but as the conditioned progressed, it became more difficult.

“One of the first things he said was, ‘why can’t I remember anything anymore?'” remembered Jerry. “Then he said, ‘well, I guess when you get old, you just quit remembering.’ He never really said it by name,” she said.

Jerry’s daughters became worried, as they didn’t want the burden of caregiving to fall entirely on their mother. In August 2019, they convinced Jerry to move Ross into SageCrest Alzheimer’s Care Center at BRC.

“It’s just a short walk for me to visit Ross almost every day. I like to go after lunch and stay with him until around 4 p.m., which is when sundown syndrome hits and he has a harder time remembering things,” said Jerry.

Jerry said the staff caring for Ross is like family to them, and that knowledge eases so much of the stress and worry stemming from his condition.

According to a Caring.com survey, 80% of respondents admit that caregiving puts a strain on relationships with 25% saying it led to divorce. What once was an equal romantic partnership can turn into a nurse-patient dynamic.

In a report from the Mayo Clinic, the impact of caregiving on a marriage can include a financial burden, reduced time together as a couple, frustration and fatigue, resentment and more.

The continuing care capabilities of Buckner Retirement Services’ Life Plan communities are one of the top reasons residents choose Buckner.

“We picked Calder Woods because of the continuous care option,” said Nancy Bond, 88, who moved to Buckner Calder Woods six years ago with her husband, Jim, 88. “We hoped we would never need the specialized care, but we wanted to be safe.”

A Life Plan Community, also known as a “Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC),” is a senior living community that offers different levels of living and care on site. These care options—independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term and skilled nursing—help meet residents’ changing needs in a comfortable environment they already know with people they already trust.

Two years ago, Jim Bond’s dementia and diabetes progressed, and Nancy had to make the decision to move her husband into a private suite within a skilled nursing cottage, while she remained in one of the Beaumont community’s independent living homes.

“I wasn’t capable of caring for him 24 hours a day,” said Nancy, “But he’s where he needs to be, and I can be by his side in minutes.”

There are many couples in similar situations who benefit greatly from continuing care. Skilled nurses and staff relieve the caregiver burden, so the couples can spend hours together each day talking, playing games and working on puzzles, or dining together.

Bob Jones, 88, says his love for his wife is stronger than ever before since moving his wife, Joyce, 89, into memory care at Buckner Parkway Place in Houston.

“I thought we had the rest of our lives planned out, but God and Alzheimer’s had a different plan,” said Bob. “I thought I could take care of her on my own, but it was more difficult than I anticipated. I knew I needed help.

“I visit her every day and still feel our love. When I see her, we still say I love you, and when we walk around we hold hands. It’s so important for people to realize what they have and not take things for granted, because one day your loved one may not remember the same precious memories you do. I wish I knew more before, but the help she is receiving now is top notch, and I know we will get through this together.”

Buckner Westminster Place resident Barbara Barkley, 87, agrees with that sentiment. Her husband, Bill, 91, has Parkinson’s and resides in a skilled nursing apartment. “I tell Bill that when I get up for the day, my purpose is to come and see him – and I do.”

© Buckner International. - Developed by LevLane
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