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Focus of senior care changing
Willow Pond offers more options for assisted living care
W Willow Hill 1
Evelyn Mabry, a resident of Willow Pond, is shown in her room at the assisted living facility. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff
     When the United States census is taken next year on April 1, 2010, the demographic snapshot of our diverse country will continue to develop into a picture of an aging nation.
      Americans, ages 85 and older, are expected to more than triple in number, from 5.4 million to 19 million between 2008 and 2050.
      As our country grays, the care of elderly parents will continue to be paramount for baby boomers who are defining a new "sandwich  generation," those sandwiched between taking care of aging parents and their own children. Georgia-based Georgia Living, LLC, owner of Willow Pond Assisted Living Community in Statesboro and five other assisted living facilities throughout Georgia, is responding to    the aging population with expanded services and solutions to cater to seniors.
      Willow Pond Assisted Living at Home, a new affiliate begun in the fall of 2008, is growing rapidly by pioneering the combination of private duty, non-medical home care with an assisted living facility according to Kelley Burns, business manager of Willow Pond at Home.
      "Providing a broader and deeper array of elder care is exciting for our company," said Burns. "Although the Willow Pond facility has been very much in demand since it opened in 1997, we saw a need for in-home care as seniors continue to want to experience independent living in their own homes."
      While many clients are at home as the name of the company implies, a large percentage of clients that Willow Pond at Home serves are residents at other assisted living facilities and nursing homes, as well patients in hospitals.
Jenkins County resident Carolyn Gay needed the help of Willow Pond at Home a week ago when her family member, Evelyn Mabry, was admitted to the hospital.
      "The caregiver came in for two nights and stayed 12 hours each night for us. Evelyn was very comfortable with the caregiver; and this made her feel secure that she could be assisted getting up and down outside of her normal environment," said Gay. "I was unaware of this program and it's comforting to know that this is available for our loved ones."
      Typical services include caring companionship, meal planning and preparation, monitoring of safety while bathing, medication reminders, incidental transportation, and light housekeeping.
      "Families of Alzheimer's patients who are literally on call 24 hours a day have been particularly interested in this new service," added Burns. "These families are relieved they can call us occasionally if they have a conflict on a particular day and cannot find a caregiver." Services for Willow Pond at Home are offered seven days a week, 24 hours a day, plus live-in care for clients whose families live a great distance away.
      Employing reliable and dependable caregivers is vital to the success of Willow Pond's business. All caregivers are licensed, bonded and insured, and go through a rigorous interview process which includes extensive background checks, drug testing and proof of a clean driving record.
      "Most of our caregivers are older women who are 'empty nesters' looking for self-fulfillment in either a part time or full time position," said Burns.
      State-of-the-art scheduling software allows Willow Pond to achieve consistent and reliable services. All caregivers call from the designated land phone line or other distinct phone number associated with the client when employees clock in for their scheduled shift.
      "If the phone call is not placed at the scheduled time from the unique phone number, a detailed text message will be sent to me within 10 minutes indicating the person did not show up," said Burns. "There is always a chance that a flat tire or other emergency could occur; and this software allows us to immediately reschedule an alternate caregiver should this happen.
      Documentation is also key to managing quality of care and client satisfaction. A service plan book, which is developed from a comprehensive needs survey and personality assessment, stays in the home of each client so family members can keep abreast of the client's daily schedule.
      "Family members that come in and check on their loved one will get a thorough picture of the client's day," Burns said.
Willow Pond at Home is a member of Seniors Choice, the nation's largest network of independent senior care providers. Through this organization, Willow Pond at Home caregivers are provided with the most comprehensive training offered in the senior companion care industry.
      Although most of Willow Pond's At Home clients are in their 80s, some patients are younger. "Our caregivers have assisted pregnant women who are bedridden and have also provided back up to families dealing with exhaustion after taking care of a loved one in the hospital," said Burns. "Families have called us in to fill in for one evening so they could get some rest at home and come back recharged. It allows the family peace of mind and assurance that additional care giving is continued."
      Most services are covered by long-term care insurance, VA benefits or private pay.
      In addition to Willow Pond Assisted Living in Statesboro, Georgia Living, LLC owns 6 other facilities in the state of Georgia. Similar services are provided in conjunction with each of those.