Finding a place for seniors to call home

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March 4, 2021

Residents who live at Eskaton enjoy a variety of services and all the comforts of home.

Resident and staff planting in a raised planter box

Making the choice to place an aging parent in a senior-care facility or hire in-home help can be difficult.

East County residents are fortunate to have options available when choosing care for their seniors. Eskaton is a regional, nonprofit, senior-living and aging-services provider with locations across Northern California.

Teri Tift, RN/MSN, Eskaton’s executive director of quality and compliance for the last 21 years, says the company’s difference lies with their range of available services, which includes independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation, skilled nursing and affordable housing, as well as in-home care that offers both medical and non-medical services to older adults in the comfort of their own homes.

“Eskaton is different, because we are very unique in that we provide this full continuum of care,” said Tift. “You don’t usually see that, you’ll see an organization that is very good at (one), but with Eskaton, you get the whole package, a full connection with multiple sites.”

Tift’s fellow employees embrace the company’s mission of enhancing the quality of life of seniors, with a focus on what is best for their clients, not the organization.

“We feel what is best for the people we care for will make the organization better,” Tift explained. “I think it’s best that we all have the same goal, we all want to make sure our older population is well cared for.”

Like all companies, Eskaton has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tift has taken the reins of managing COVID-19 changes and protocols. She said her work has been to stay on top of ever-changing state and local guidelines and shifting the mindset in residential care to a more health care-based focus.

“Now we all have it down, and we know we need to stay six feet apart, we know we need to wear our face masks and PPE (personal protection equipment), depending on what the circumstances are, and we know how to disinfect and implement hand washings,” Tift said. “But for residential services, that was a big shift. They now are required to have an infection-control lead or champion. They’ve always had infection-control practices in place, but this is a greater focus.”

Another local option is Westmont Living of Brentwood. With 132 apartment-style homes, Westmont offers independent and assisted living, as well as memory care. Executive Director Kyle Ruth-Islas has been with Westmont of Belmont for five months and has worked in long-term care administration for six years. In addition to a stellar memory care program, he pointed out the facility’s physical and occupational therapy services offer residents necessary support for post-hospital care and general strength and mobility.

“Family-owned Westmont Living is a senior-living operator who builds and manages their communities,” Ruth-Islas said. “With a mission to provide inspiring life experiences that enable residents and their families to lead full and enriching lives, Westmont Living’s team members work tirelessly to foster resident independence while respecting individuality, choice, dignity, and privacy.”

During the pandemic, Westmont has worked to ensure residents stay active and engaged through a variety of activities like small group exercise, arts and crafts, and Bingo. During times when even small groups were not allowed, room visits were continued with individual activities like puzzles, books, literature, and visits to check in on the emotional wellbeing of residents.

According to Jennifer Birkland, Westmont’s community relations coordinator, communal dining, physical and occupational therapy, and salon services are currently up and running, with multiple options for scheduling.

“What we’ve noticed through all of this is that our residents are resilient, and that human connection and camaraderie go a long way in lifting spirits,” Birkland said. “Our relationships have definitely deepened as we lean on each other to get through these difficult times.”

With Eskaton offering a variety of services, costs of care can vary. For more information, visit www.eskaton.org.  The Press

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