Franciscan Moment: St. Paul Elderly Services Inc. , Kaukauna, Wisconsin

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are honored to feature St. Paul Elderly Services, Kaukauna, Wisconsin as our May Franciscan Moment.

Tell us a bit about St. Paul Elderly Services.

Founded in 1943 by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, St. Paul Elder Services delivers a full complement of compassionate care to successfully meet the health needs of older adults in the greater Fox Valley area. From community education to hospice services to memory care, and everything in between, we are here to provide a continuum of care that enriches the lives of those we serve, both within our facilities and within the community. Each program and facility has been designed to experience a seamless transition from one stage of care to the next. We take great pride in the compassionate care we provide and the expertise we bring to caring for each person. St. Paul Elder Services serves over 2,000 individuals annually and employs nearly 400 professional caregivers and support personnel.

How do you keep the spirit of St. Francis alive among you?

For 75 years, we have been blessed to journey with older adults through their later years and the ends of their lives, which we feel is such sacred work. We are called to enrich lives in physical, emotional, spiritual, and social ways, and by the very nature of the work of caring for others, our mission is undeniably present. At St. Paul Elder Services, we cherish all life, and see the gifts in each person we serve and in each person we work with. We treat all people, no matter their abilities, status, or backgrounds, as though they were our own family members, and strive to provide them the best care possible. Our commitment to quality is unwavering, and our quality outcomes are a mark of our mission integration. The growth in our services and programs illustrates our firm belief in providing for what the community needs. Our employees are deeply appreciated by us, and by those they touch day in and day out; we strive to enrich their lives as well through meaningful engagement and opportunity.

Is there any significant news in your institution that makes this an especially Franciscan Moment for you?

On March 19, 2018, LeadingAge and Integrace together honored the incredible achievements of  individuals and organizations that care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias every day at the 5th annual Great Minds Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. Three awards were presented:  National Excellence in Dementia Care Award, the Proxmire Advocacy Award, and the Exceptional Friend or Family Care Partner Award. The Excellence in Dementia Care Award is Kaukauna’s own St. Paul Elder Services, Inc., whose innovative “Passages” program supports individuals as they experience various stages of dementia. Passages includes a wide variety of memory care-specific supportive services and living options across the entire care continuum. St. Paul Elder Services supports people living with dementia at each stage in the progression of the disease, and in whatever setting they prefer to call home. The result: the right amount of support at the right time for each person, who live with socialization, meaningful experiences, and interventions that allow for continued independence and maximum safety. President and CEO Sondra Norter, NHA. JD and Chief Operating Office and in-house dementia expert Becky Reichelt received the award.

Any recent experience among the people that is especially meaningful?

These are a couple of anecdotes that motivate us to do all that we do with our Passages programs and the education and engagement that are at their core. The first is based on some words that Becky Reichelt, Chief Operating Office and our in-house dementia care expert, actually wrote about one of our CNAs on one of our skilled dementia neighborhoods. Becky described observing a staff person who had embraced our dementia training and person-centered philosophy interacting with a resident living with dementia who was experiencing some agitation. The resident was unable to communicate, but Becky observed the CNA approach the resident, and the resident’s demeanor changed, she was so happy to see our CNA, and Becky said that if the resident had been able to communicate, you know that she would have said something like “Thank God you are here, I feel so safe with you.”

Another current resident who has progressed through our continuum of Passages programming with us said “everyone is so kind, I was so worried about what would happen to me, I am so relieved, I love my new home.” And the family of a resident who lived with early onset dementia and the many challenges that go along with that particular diagnosis, and also progressed through our Passages programs, said “there are not enough words to thank you for the excellent, compassionate care you provided to our mother over the past 3.5 years. The person she became was certainly not the person she was, and we appreciate the fact that you all knew that and treated her with respect.” Those stories are why we do what we do, and why we continue to work to bring more education and innovative services to those living with dementia and their care partners.

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