Benchmark Cares — Our Stories

Benchmark Senior Living is all about people. Our compassionate caregivers work with residents who become like family to them, so it is no surprise we constantly receive positive feedback from residents and families. From the wonderful associates to the fabulous activities, they want us to know that they made the right decision and are so relieved and happy with choosing a Benchmark community for their loved one.

Feel free to browse this collection of stories that capture the successful mission of Benchmark's compassionate caregivers.

Nothing to Feel Guilty About

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My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the fall of 2009. What a shock that was to hear!

At that time my brother and I vowed to keep our mom at home with help from family and caregivers and we were mostly successful until December 2013. Until you experience the overwhelming task of managing a 24/7 schedule of care, the costs associated with this care, along with the myriad of emotions that accompany caregiving for a family member, you can’t begin to imagine how fortunate we were to find the Harbor at Bedford Falls. We moved my mom into the Harbor at Bedford Falls in December, 2013, two weeks before Christmas. We felt ‘guilty’ for not keeping our vow, but now that we’re 6 months into it, it was the best thing we could have done both for our mom and for ourselves. Our mom is thriving in this environment. She has totally integrated into the Bedford Falls Harbor community and is never in her room. The staff is absolutely wonderful, encouraging her to do what she can and helping her with what she can’t. At home, the socialization aspect of daily living was missing. At Bedford Falls, she’s always first in line for the next activity, and quite often leaves me in the hallway in favor or the Activity Director. My brother and I can’t thank the entire Bedford Falls team enough. They all have a difficult job but carry it out with such enthusiasm, allowing the residents to live with dignity and respect. While my mom has lost her ability to communicate verbally, you can see it in her eyes and her facial expressions how happy and secure she feels to be at the Harbor. Thanks Bedford Falls!! 

A party to remember

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My husband Rabbi Reuben Katz and I have been living at Cabot Park Village for the past 4years.

We found both Margaret and Todd to be very fine directors. But now I want tell about the excellent experience that I had with Len. 
I had wanted to have a wonderful party to celebrate my husband's 95th birthday, to which all of the residents would be invited. When I came to Len with my plans, he went far beyond anything that might be expected of him.He took the time to attend every one of the planning meetings, always making helpful suggestions. On the day of the function , he was right there with hands on help. Both the Community Room and the club room were filled to capacity. Len saw to it that everybody was served all the goodies. He even set things up so the people in the club room could hear the entertainment that our children were acting out in the community room. The function was something that Cabot Park Village had never experienced before. We thanked Len but we also want to thank you for sending him to us as our new director. 
Most Gratefully, 
Reba Katz

A heartfelt thank you

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Let me take advantage this moment, to thank you and tell you how I feel.

Your team has managed to provide relief, positive acceptance, and hope where a week ago we felt anxiety, guilt and even some despair.

My wife and I are from large families and have enjoyed sharing our adult lives and our children with our parents. We have relished the infrequent moments that we could help them as they have grown older – a token gesture to the years of commitment and sacrifice they have made in raising large families.

When Maureen’s mom passed away unexpectedly we thought the obvious and best thing would be to bring dad home with us. After just a couple of weeks we realized that we could not meet his needs. After a few days trial one of Maureen’s brothers came to the same challenging realization.

Our entire family is so appreciative of you and your staff. The Birches team has maximized both dad’s transition and that of our family.

Your facilities execution of, what I have to assume are, industry best practice and procedures are then enhanced by your entire staff’s personal commitment, passion and personal touches.

Every indication is that dad is not only happy, healthy and safe but entertained, social, and productive. I have always cringed at the ironic use of the word “home” for “senior facilities.” The Birches has actually managed to achieve the dynamics of a family home despite the challenging elements of Alzheimer’s. It appears dad enjoys his new “home.”

We cannot thank you enough for your professionalism, empathy, and service. 

Best regards, 
Peter 

True Angels

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I want to thank all of you for the care, love, and respect you gave to my mother in the numerous times she called Greenwich Farms her home.

For the kindness and care your showed her family in her last days, as well. I will cherish forever her last week I held her hand, stroked her hair, and lay in bed with her almost constantly. Thank you for being angels to our loved ones! Gretchen Webster 

So very happy

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I can't tell you how happy the whole family is with how things are going since we moved Hugh to the Atrium.

He looks fantastic and seems to be adjusting well. He's doing things I never thought he would like painting and exercising. So great for him. 

Perfect in every way

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Bea has been an Resident Care Associate at The Falls for almost 17 years.

During her tenure she has touched the lives of hundreds of residents and families. All of Bea’s residents and families tell me that she is the most amazing and caring RCA. From the start of her shift all the way to the end, she consistently goes above and beyond to deliver individualized care to our residents. She always takes her time during care and some residents will only let her shower them.

When new residents move in, Bea will introduce them to other residents and to the community. She is also wonderful with new associates who onboard and train in our community. Bea mentors them and helps weave them into our daily lives. She is very patient and helpful in terms of going over resident routines, so our new associates feel comfortable and at ease for caring for our residents. Bea is truly thoughtful in every interaction she has, whether it’s with residents, families or associates.

Buon giorno, Signora

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“Buon giorno, Signora!” says Luciano, Lead Dining Room Server at River Ridge.

“Come sta Lei oggi?” (How are you today?) “Si prega di sedersi qui.” (Please, have a seat here) motioning one of our residents to have a seat. 

But today Luciano is not in the dining room – rather, he is conducting Italian and French lessons to an eager group of residents and every seat is taken. Italian lessons begin at 10:00 am and French follows at 10:30 am. Teacher and students meet every Tuesday morning before Luciano punches in on the time clock. 

In one week, the group of residents will ‘graduate’ and receive their diplomas. “Next semester we will learn Spanish!” exclaims Luciano and the residents are thrilled. He returns their enthusiasm with his charming smile… the smile that every family member, guest, resident, and associate has come to love.

Luciano’s compassion and love for our residents is well known to everyone who crosses our threshold. Never does he miss an opportunity to take someone’s hand and say “Ciao” or air-kiss the cheeks of those whom he is close to. He sings Happy Birthday to countless residents in the dining room, extolling their virtues out loud to everyone present. He brings a smile to even the grumpiest of residents. 

He dances with the residents, brings flowers to their rooms, and even offers his lunch to staff members whom he hasn’t seen eat yet. If staffing is short-handed, he’ll punch out and stay afterwards to help serve and clean up. His charm, hospitality, and easy conversation are on display 24/7. Some call it superior customer service; at River Ridge we just smile and know we have a winner on our team.

His acts of kindness extend to outside the work environment. On one occasion he stopped in at a local rehab on Easter Sunday morning before his shift to visit one of our residents – with flowers in hand and a stuffed bunny under his arm. He has been seen at the local supermarket filling bags with food staples that are needed at a local shelter. And so on. 

Although humble and far from attention-seeking, Luciano sets a high bar for others to aspire to reach. He would turn such a compliment around, “I am so fortunate to work with such lovely people.” That is pure Luciano. 

Simply the best….

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Sheila is a customer service tsunami.

Her personality and her approach to nursing are extremely high energy, loud, and overwhelmingly positive. 

However, the side of Shelia people often miss is her deep compassion and thoughtfulness for our residents. Sheila’s most recent display of Benchmark’s values had a profound impact on one of our family members and on every associate who heard the story.

Sal is the husband of one of our Harbor residents, his wife of 60+ years. Sal visits his wife every day in the Harbor and is overheard telling his wife how beautiful she is and how she is still the love of his life. Sal, an Air Force veteran, was invited to represent Connecticut during a ceremony at the World War II monument in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 27, 2013. 

Sal did not tell anyone about this honor – until he happened to mention to Sheila that he would not be able to visit his wife on Friday and Saturday – a very rare occurrence for him. Sheila, out of her concern for his health, pressed Sal until he shared the details of his trip to Washington.

Sensing an opportunity to thank Sal for his service to our country and let him know how deeply he was respected at the Village at Kensington Place, Sheila organized a group of associates and family members to create a little surprise for him. 
Sheila found a picture of Sal and his squadron, blew it up, and she and Harbor Care Director, Tami Laucks, mounted the photo on a banner. Associates and family members also wrote personalized notes on the banner. 

Sheila recruited fellow associates, Larry Cadrain and Marta Lopez, and Joe P., the husband of another Harbor resident and a veteran himself, to travel up to Bradley International Airport and welcome Sal home.

It was a surprise for everyone when a NBC-30 news crew was there and captured the homecoming celebration. Sal was interviewed and highlighted on the 11:00pm news. Sal’s response – “I will never forget this day as long as I live.” 

No Problem….

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Wesner "Yvon" Noel is always positive and friendly in all his interactions with residents, families, and co-workers.

When anyone asks for help, Yvon smiles a smile that covers his whole face and in a soft, caring voice always answers, "Yes, no problem." 

Yvon officially works in Plant Operations, but will help out wherever and whenever he is needed. No job is too big or too small. He truly embodies the belief that this is our residents' home and we are here for them. He will move furniture, unclog toilets, deliver packages, set up for events, clean up… all with a smile. He never expects any recognition for the many things he does around the community and takes pride in all his duties. Yvon is honest, kind, positive, flexible, and thoughtful. 

Residents, families, and co-workers respect Yvon's work ethic, positive attitude, and kindness toward the residents. He has a "can do" attitude and will take care of any task, big or small, to ensure that community is the best it can be for our residents, their families, and our associates.
  

A special new gift

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Deb Roddrick always goes above and beyond for her residents.

She takes extra time and devotion with each one of them. Deb is one for thinking outside the box and coming up with creative approaches with the residents.

One example that stands out in particular is with one of our female residents that does not like bathing. Deb will go into this resident’s room early in the morning, while she is asleep, and pick out an entire outfit for her, then Deb put all the articles in a beautiful gift bag. 

When it comes time for Deb to do this resident's care she walks into the room so excited to show her the new outfit that she just "bought" her. Our resident is so touched that someone would go out of their way for her that she agrees to take a shower and put on the new outfit. Deb is a shining example of what the best of the best is all about! 

A big sister at the community

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Florette Wellington has been with Benchmark Senior Living for 14 years and, through her compassion and leadership skills, is always ready to do whatever it takes to meet our residents’ needs.

Florette provides outstanding customer service leadership daily – she is dedicated, loyal, fun and always “on.” 

Acting as a “big sister” for her fellow associates, Florette arrives for work each day displaying a warm smile for our residents and her co-workers and she maintains her focus as a professional.
Florette spends time talking with residents in a compassionate, thoughtful, and caring manner. 

On many occasions, a nervous or agitated resident often ends up calm, laughing, and engaged after a friendly, soothing conversation with Florette. 

Total Committment

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Marcia, a member of our Benchmark Harbor Team for over four years, has made a tremendous impact on our entire Maple Woods community.

She finds a way to capture the hearts of each of our residents through her phenomenal work ethic and ability to be “present” at their most difficult moments. 

Marcia truly understands the meaning behind the phrase, “power of the smallest gesture” and gives equal attention to their emotional well-being. On a daily basis you can find her pretending to be someone’s husband, so the resident will allow her to provide care or bringing a resident down to the beauty parlor to wash her hair because she doesn’t like getting her face wet.

Family members specifically request Marcia to take care of their loved ones, because the residents feel safe with her. Kind and caring, she always keeps a smile on her face even on the toughest days. 

Committed to our entire community, she will jump in to help out other departments. Not only is she the ultimate team player, but she often finds time to have quality one-on-one interactions with residents. Her captivating personality grabs the attention of anyone she interacts with and keeps them engaged and smiling. Her focus and determination to deliver unsurpassed care is matched by few others. We are truly grateful and lucky to have her as a part of our Maple Woods at Hamden Team! 

The Right Choice

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I want to tell you how thankful Linda and I are for your sensitive handling of things with both us and our mother...

It does not surprise us that you are a top company to work for after viewing the way you both treat each other as staff, and how the staff interacts with the residents. The environment is so bright and cheerful. In the past my sister has worked in a convalescent home, and I have worked in group homes. As you correctly pointed out the facility is only as good as its staff. Linda and I went to another community after seeing you yesterday. The differences we saw with the personal interactions along the way were striking. The things the manager thought were important were all too often off the mark. Little, or no questions were asked about who our parents were, or how they would be helped. No knowledge was shared regarding Alzheimer's, other then they found it is good to have colored plates and cups. Please share our thanks with Judy Anne and all the staff that we met along the way. Everyone obviously believes and takes a great pride in what they do. Their work ethic and sincerity shined though. In our minds there is no greater difference one can make then ensuring dignity for a fellow human being."
-Brian Corey, Son of Residents at The Village at South Farms

A Brother's Perspective

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...I will now sleep much better knowing that Janice is in the caring hands of you and the wonderful staff at your beautiful facility...

I just had the pleasure of visiting with my sister Janice at your facility this past Sunday. I must admit it was with some trepidation that we made the trip from San Diego as my experience with assisted care facilities was not an enjoyable one when I had looked at that option for our mother when she was still with us. As we arrived at The Village at South Farms and entered I was … in a word…”overwhelmed.”

Two very friendly staff members quickly realized that we must be here to see Janice and directed us to her room and said that our private luncheon was ready in The Pub whenever we want to go up. The stairs, the hallways, the dining areas, the lighting was much more like a five-star hotel than what I expected an assisted care facility to look like. Her room was light and warm and the grounds were impeccable. Not to forget, Brittney (with a smile and bubbly attitude) made sure that the meal was both delicious and that were enjoying ourselves…again, as with all your staff…with a genuine smile and caring demeanor.

This leads me to why I have written this letter beyond the obvious “Thank You” to you and your staff for a delightful experience. I am sixty-one (and remind my sister constantly that I am fourteen years younger that her) and during the course of my career in retailing I have been the CEO of billion dollar public retail companies. The biggest challenge I always had was trying to instill (by example) that the most important person a customer interacts with is the associate on the front line. It doesn’t matter what we put in our ads or on our mission statement or on the signs in the window. The only thing that matters is how that customer feels when they enter and then leave the store. I interacted with at least ten different staff members in your facility if only to ask a question or say hello. Each one was spectacular in the way they responded with “genuine interest” and always a sweet smile and pleasant attitude. I do not know you Mr. Grady…but then again I do. I have tried to accomplish in my career what you have seemed to achieve so effortlessly at your facility. One judges leaders by the people they hire and the standards they set. You and your staff have set a very high bar for any other facility to match. On behalf of my family who lives too far away to visit frequently I will now sleep much better knowing that Janice is in the caring hands of you and the wonderful staff at your beautiful facility. Please share my appreciation to all of your staff and tell them how proud they should be to be part of a team like the one you have created.
My Sincerest appreciation,
Mike Searles & Family
(Brother of resident of The Village at South Farms)

A Grateful Daughter

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...wonderful caring community at Greystone Farm and these people are responsible...

I wrote to you last year after my father's death to commend staff at Greystone Farm at Salem for their support of my parents who had lived there for three years. I am now in a position to write you again after the passing of my mother on March 4.

Tracey, Carol and Linda all work at Greystone. The environment of support and caring they provided me, an only child, during the difficult time went, in my opinion, above and beyond the general responsibilities of their roles. The sense of family and welcome I felt from them made such a difference for me. Although we had a memorial service at my family's church, Tracey and Carol organized another service at Greystone for the people who could not get to the church. I am truly overwhelmed by their kindness.

Michelle, Joy and Heather are caregivers at Greystone. They worked with my mother and made her feel special and comfortable and loved. This meant so much to me since I live out of state and could not provide the daily support she received from these wonderful ladies.
You have a wonderful caring community at Greystone Farm and these people are responsible for that.
Yours Sincerely,
Cynthia Fletcher, Daughter of Greystone Farm at Salem residents

Complete Confidence

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...every confidence in their remarkable staff and enjoy peace-of-mind...

From our first visit to The Village at Willow Crossing, we knew we'd found something special. We were warmly greeted, interviewed with genuine interest, and had every question patiently answered. The admission process and move-in were painless, and I noticed every staff member, from the Director to the kitchen staff, was attentive and outgoing. After just a few weeks of residence, Mom was amazed how so many people knew her name, and exhibited a true interest in her well being.

I am pleased with their level of communication, and receive regular phone calls updating me on my mother. This is expected, but the true test of any assisted living facility is how well they respond in time of crisis. When we experience a medical emergency, they did a brilliant job of attending to Mom's needs, and immediately contacting me to inform me, and kept me updated.

I have every confidence in their remarkable staff and enjoy peace-of-mind in knowing she is receiving excellent care. I highly recommend The Village at Willow Crossings.
Joe, Son of The Village at Willow Crossings resident

Thank You For Everything

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...She always liked and kept busy with the many activities that were offered...

Thank you to everyone my mom came in contact with at Blenheim. Blenheim was like a second family to her. She was safe, well cared for, and loved by everyone on your staff . She always liked and kept busy with the many activities that were offered. I lived in Connecticut but felt mom was in good hands and I could worry a little less knowing she was well cared for.
Thank you,
Elaine, Daughter of Blenheim-Newport Resident

As Usual, Dad Was Right

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Every member of the staff, from the maintenance crew up to the nursing staff, act in a friendly and professional manner...

I have been terribly remiss in writing and sending this letter but here it finally is. As you know, my parents moved to the Village at South Farms in February, 2008. My dad had been living with congestive heart failure and lung cancer for a few years at that point and though he was slowly becoming more symptomatic, we had no clear idea of how much longer he would be able to fight it off. When my parents moved in, my dad was under the care of hospice. They requested that one or more family members be present during his last few weeks to help care for him and to support my mom. My brother and sister and I took turns and even slept there at night towards the end. He did succumb to his illness on May 4, 2008.

The reason I am writing this letter is to express the gratitude of my family to all the employees of the Village at South Farms. I don’t think there was ever a time when any of us were not greeted in a cheerful and friendly manner. In the days just prior to my dad’s death every one there acted with great compassion and thoughtfulness, not just to my mom but to everyone in the family. It’s possible at times like that to smother a family with kind attention but your employees seemed to know just when to offer help and when to leave us to ourselves.

I want to tell you that if that experience hadn’t been enough to sing your praises, the following time certainly has been. My mom is doing very well. This is primarily due to your wonderful staff. Every single one treats her with kindness and respect. They help her deal with her own health issues and are responsive to her needs and to our concerns about her. I am always greeted with smiles and even a few hugs every time I come to visit. Every member of the staff, from the maintenance crew up to the nursing staff, act in a friendly and professional manner.

It is a well known phenomenon that if a person has a bad experience with something, they tell everyone they can about it but when the experience is a good one they don’t think to spread the word. I must say that everyone in my family spreads the word about the Village at South Farms and Benchmark in general whenever we have the chance.

I have tried to learn the names of the staff and someday I might get everyone. Right now, however, I can only say thank you from the Foley family to each of you. We so appreciate your hard work. We feel that my dad passed so peacefully in part because he knew his beloved wife would not just be safe with you but would be cared for by you. My brothers and sister and I have come to know that, as usual, dad was right.
With lasting gratitude,
Kayte Foley and the Foley family

A Wonderful Community

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I can not say enough about the Village, except that all are wonderful...

I am writing to tell you once a gain how remarkable your staff is over at The Village at Mariner's Point. My dad was not well and immediately Sue the nurse informed me how his condition was. At the time, I was out of the area and couldn't get home fast enough. Sue called me and kept me posted until I did get to him. He was hospitalized for a few days, and is home now recovering. Thanks to her and the rest of your staff, things are ok for him. The welcoming home he got was wonderful by both your staff and residents. I can not say enough about the Village, except that all are wonderful. They are such a part of my dad's life and mine and don't know what I would do if he wasn't there. I just recently had knee surgery and couldn't make it there like I always did but I was able to put my head down at night knowing he was safe and in good hands. I hope and pray that it will always be like that forever. I hope you are proud just like I am.
-Anna Rose, Daughter of Village at Mariner's Point Resident

Respect, Dignity, and Independence

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...I only wish every assisted living facility could be as phenomenal as The Village...

 I am writing to say Thank You to your staff for the awesome care Matthew and Robert have been receiving since moving to your facility. Matt and Bob have enjoyed their living, dining, nursing and transport experiences to the fullest. I only wish every assisted living facility could be as phenomenal as The Village. I have a very real issue with respect, dignity and independence being offered to all senior citizens….The Village offers all of that and more. Bob has been having serious health issues lately. Ellen, Gerry, Bogdan and Bruce have been phenomenal help, support and comfort for Matt during every ordeal. Ellen has been a very real comfort for me also. I’ve kept her updated on a daily/weekly basis and she’s been there every step of the way. Kerry and Lisa have also been a Godsend for Matt offering support wherever possible including offering him the new room on the first floor. If you speak with Matt I’m sure he will add other names to the list of awesome caregivers. Please extend my gratitude to each and everyone. Even though I’ve thanked most of them when talking with them, I wanted to make sure you know just what a phenomenal staff you have.
Sincerely ,
Roberta A. Bolduc

In Every Cloud, A Silver Lining

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We could not have asked for better or more loving care...

To the Staff and Residents of The Village,
Dear Friends,

Always the positive thinker, our Mom liked the old adage: “In every cloud, there is a silver lining.” To her family you have been that silver lining in the cloud of her illness. We could not have asked for better or more loving care for her or for our Dad than what they found at The Village. God led them to the right place! You are a beautiful blessing to us; please know that our gratitude exceeds our ability to express it.
Debbie Hall Anderson, William K. Hall, Karen and Harry Arendt

Lucky to Have Found the Atrium

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...my mother was very pleased with her beautiful surroundings and the living care that your staff provided...

This note of thank-you is long overdue, but nonetheless heartfelt. I was lucky to have looked at your facility in the summer of 2009, and while I chose not to move my mother at that time, I was so glad to have made contact with you. When the emergency moment came to move my mother on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 I placed a call to you at noon that day, and you leapt into action. We had my mother moved into The Atrium by 3 pm on Friday, December 4th. I was so lucky that you are willing to take her on with all of her challenges. It was a rocky first couple of weeks, but with their “can-do” attitude, your staff persisted, and she soon settled in. It was clear that my mother was very pleased with her beautiful surroundings and the living care that your staff provided. In particular, I was aware of the kindness and gentle care that my mother received from Nurse Jessica, and personal care assistant Joyce, and Debbie. My mother was a gentle, classy woman in her younger years, but the last few years of her life were not kind, as her personality, memory and ability to communicate began to fade. I so appreciate your staff’s ability to see past the wrinkled, cranky old woman on the outside and look closely for the beauty that was still barley visible compared to the woman she once was. Also of note, I was especially impressed with the proactive care with knowledge and compassion for my mother. As my mother continued to slip away and failed to thrive in the spring I was lucky that you, along with the help of Hospice, were so willing to accommodate my mother’s changing needs.
Sincerely,
Susan Biggs (daughter of resident)

Stages of Dementia

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Mom has entered a new chapter in her life, a chapter full of adventure, of new beginnings every day, of comfort and peace...

Stages………learning to love a stranger.

1. Denial: gently pretending that nothing is wrong: Oh Mom, you probably just forgot, That’s OK.
  • 1 a. Frustration: Don’t you remember, Mom, I told you yesterday that we were going to go out for lunch today.
  • 1 b. Anger: Damn it, Mother, MAKE yourself remember.
2. Fibbing: covering up for the memory loss, as though it were somehow a nasty thing to air in public. This is done as much for the AD patient as for the fibber – the daughter, the son, the grandchild, the caregiver.

3. It’s all good: picking out the brilliant thoughts; underscoring the logic of this or that response; applauding heartily that which would have been pretty boring daily accomplishments before AD took over. But we live in the moment, and it’s all good.

4. Sorrow: the realization that we are losing our loved one; the inexorable march of AD as it settles more and more deeply into the caverns of our loved one’s brain; no one has died, hence we cannot grieve, but we continue to be more and more sorrowful, and feel more and more helpless in this one-sided battle against the enemy. So we continue to go back to #1, it’s OK to have forgotten, Mom, you have more important things to think about; to #2, we quickly jump into conversations lest someone, some outsider, discover that Mom isn’t thinking quite clearly – how awfully embarrassing that would be; to #3, Wow, did you hear that, Mom actually said something terribly brilliant, how great was that, let’s write that down. But then, somehow, something has to happen, and I think that is.

5. Acceptance: going to a state-wide meeting about AD; listening to cold hard medical facts; the harshness of talking about which “stage” Mom is at, as though this were some kind of test or quiz on which she is being graded – gosh, I hope she does well, I’d hate to have someone think she were stage 4, because I think she’s in pretty good shape, I only wish other people could see that. But whoops, that’s not acceptance, is it, maybe #’s 1, 2, 3 and 4 haven’t really gone away, we just put them aside temporarily, and it’s so handy to dredge them up again whenever we need a little something positive in this whole scenario. So maybe I’m not there yet, have not quite got the acceptance shtick perfected; still have to work on that, so I can go on to

6. Enjoyment without guilt: it’s easier to do this when some geographic distance is established; even a day in Montreal is a divorce from Spear Street, to say nothing about a week on the boat in France, three weeks in Normandy, a month in Florida. Is this hiding? Copping out? Running away from reality? Can’t do the same when I am in my own home; it’s so hard to just sit back and relax, knowing that just down the road Mom is not sharing my enjoyment, whatever it may be – a good book, an entertaining TV show, a nice meal with lots of good conversation about the history of wild boar hunting in Wisconsin, or the pros and cons of this or that herb or spice, or which wine would have been better to serve…Is this silly? Is this superficial? Is this totally self-centered on my part? So often, in the middle of any of these situations, I just want to pick up the phone and say Hey Mom, guess what we were just talking about; guess what I made for dinner; wish you were here to enjoy it all with us. But you can’t be, not any more; we have to go back to step 1 and step 2 and step 3 whenever we’re all together, living in the let’s pretend world of AD, where it’s all good. But you’re not really there, and that’s the saddest part of all.And now I’m just going to cry for a while. Later…

7. And now it’s later… I think I’ve finally resolved that what’s good for Mom has got to be good for me. I’ll accept whatever reality is hers and live there. But wait, that’s not great for my own life, for my marriage, for the world in which I have to function. So who is the victim here? Who is the caregiver and who the patient? And where do we go, now that we’ve established these new boundaries on this new reality? So wait again: at some point, we have to understand that our lives are comprised of chapters, each to be read/lived in its own order, digested and understood and then used as a building block for the next chapter. Mom is now living a new chapter, her very own chapter, and – and this is the hard part – I have to live my own new chapter, also my very own. It’s not getting any easier, even after having identified what I think is this new reality. But I am still the responsible adult in this situation, and it is on my shoulders that daily decisions rest. And I am getting tired. Please, let something happen that will let us get on to the next chapter for all of us.

--September 16, 2010, Mom moved in to the Arbors --

8. I am at peace. I have slept like the proverbial baby for the last several nights, knowing that Mom is in a safe place; she is cared for, she is fed and is warm, and, most of all, she is loved. I have finally come to realize that it doesn’t really matter who does the caring for, the feeding, the providing of warmth, the love. I used to think that it was all about my doing all that; and now I realize that it wasn’t MY doing all these things, it was about these things getting done. So it’s NOT all about me after all. What a revelation! So, in the final analysis, maybe Alzheimer’s is much more than a debilitating disease for those whom it strikes. It is a lesson in humility for those it leaves behind. Mom has entered a new chapter in her life, a chapter full of adventure, of new beginnings every day, of comfort and peace. And it is up to me to find my own new chapter, and to live that chapter and, when the time comes, to go on to the next one. Thanks, Mom, for the lesson.

EVERYTHING is Right

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...esthetics, facilities, and programs are A+ as are the employees and their obvious dedication to doing an outstanding job...

My 94 year old father has recently moved into your Warwick, RI facility and has been moved from assisted living to the Harbor program.
Your CEO should know that in my opinion, all of the employees there from the General Manager on down are outstanding at what they do. My friends and relatives have asked me my opinion of Greenwich Farms and I have told them that "Everything" is right and that every employee at Greenwich Farms has done more than I expected.

You should be commended - esthetics, facilities, and programs are A+ as are the employees and their obvious dedication to doing an outstanding job. And the cost is competitive with other like-type assisted living facilities in RI, although there is valueadd at Greenwich Farms which is so obviously above and beyond your competition - the residents actually echo this message often.

Congratulations for doing what you do so well and providing your service with such true compassion.
Regards,
Bill Berman, son of Greenwich Farms at Warwick Residen
t

Golden Years

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...the staff performed their duties with genuine regard for the residents...

I would like to bring to your attention the care my family recently received when we brought my aunt, Anna, to Ridgefield Crossings in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

My aunt lived at home with a full time aide since she was 90 years old. A couple of months ago the family decided to "move" her to an Assisted Living facility. We reviewed a couple of communities including Ridgefield Crossings in Ridgefield, CT. When we came for our first tour we were greeted warmly and professionally. The staff we met, led by Tami, toured with us the facility and provided us with information which immediately put our mind at ease. It became clear that not only was the place meticulously kept but the staff performed their duties with genuine regard for the residents and a belief in their mission. Our decision was made easy and within a few weeks we transferred my aunt to Ridgefield Crossings.

During the days my aunt was a resident at Ridgefield Crossings she enjoyed exceptional care and it was obvious she felt the love bestowed on her by the staff. Unfortunately less than a week after the move my aunt passed away. The staff, again led by Tami, was there to soften the sadness. They helped us with the arrangements and did not pressure us to clear my aunt's belongings. Their sorrow over her death was genuine even though she was only there for a short period of time.

In summary, the dedication of your staff and the support they provided us made it very clear that you have selected the right people to that facility. Families can feel very comfortable and secure when they select Ridgefield Crossings as the community where their loved ones will spend their "Golden years".
Sincerely,
Laurie Kilchevsky, MSW

Recognizing Excellence

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I feel certain that my mother is getting everything she needs...

This letter is long overdue, is written in recognition of Celina Watson. Celina is an asset to the Benchmark Community whose work and efforts, kindness and patience, are exemplary and deserving of praise.

I first met Celina when Benchmark took over Ridgefield Crossings. My mother, Roberta, had been a resident in the facility since 2002, and thus had lived there through the leadership of three different management companies. Celina introduced herself to me at the welcoming event, and quickly made me feel assured my mom was now in good hands. Since that day, Celina has continually extended herself to our family, making my mother’s residence at Ridgefield Crossings as comfortable and problem-free as possible. Her door is always open, and she is concerned and receptive should any small issue arise. Her kindness, compassion and understanding became even more evident when my mother decided that she would like to live with my family and me, to spend more time with us, particularly her nine-year-old granddaughter, her only grandchild.
My mother, who has fairly advanced Multiple-Sclerosis, informed me that she was primarily independent, and would require little care once in my house. We prepared for nearly a year for her to move in, and once we informed Celina of the move, she never once made us feel awkward or uncomfortable about my mom leaving; she only let us know that mom would be missed and would be welcomed back should the new living arrangements not work out as planned. As soon as my mom moved in with us, it became abundantly clear that she had been mistaken; that she required a great deal of assistance in her daily living. The reason for her thinking she didn’t need much help was, I believe, that the aid she had been receiving from the Ridgefield Crossings staff had become practically invisible to her; that the staff had assisted her with such grace and ease that she mistakenly thought she wasn’t requiring much help. When she realized that she needed much more than my husband and I could provide, even with the help of aides at our home, Celina was there for us. She invited my mom to attend the holiday party, so that she was able to reconnect with her friends at Ridgefield Crossings. She informed us as soon as an apartment became available, and she and her staff made the transition back to Ridgefield Crossings as seamless as possible for my mom and us.

Simply knowing that Celina is ultimately responsible for my mother’s care is extremely reassuring to me. It is a somewhat helpless feeling having to rely on others for the care of a parent, but because of Celina I feel certain that my mother is getting everything she needs. I feel that Celina taking over as director of Ridgefield Crossings was a kind gift to our family; one that I need to be sure is recognized and appreciated for her efforts, which go above and beyond what I originally expected from an assisted living arrangement for my mother. She is an invaluable asset to your company and should be recognized as such.
Thank you so much,
Elizabeth Massa (daughter of resident)

An Extended Family

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...always had a kind hello and warm smile...

My mother, Thelma (Mimi), was a resident in Harbor at Haverhill Crossings. She lived there from the day it opened in 2008 until she died this May. I would like to share our experience and thank everyone.

Our experience was incredible and although there were bumps along the way we all grew from them. The leadership provided by Adam and later by Sam was commendable. They both instill kindness in their team. Fran and Melanie provided incredible support by listening, helping, and learning. The entire Wellness Team, both Barbara’s, Lisa, Pat and Kerry, was my daily support and were there for us every time we needed them. The administrative staff, Denise and Kristin, always had a kind hello and warm smile. Chris provided a wonderful gift of music and talking French to Mimi which she just loved. And then there are “Mimi’s Angels”- Nicole, Danielle, Sarah, Vanessa, Angleo, Lucy, Yolanda, Jamie, Jennifer, Piera, Cheryl, Kevin, Mary, Rachel, Karen, Doreen “our personal comic”, Jennifer, Magan, Kayla, Maria, Jane, Maria, and Fritz – who we thank for the light touch, the huge smiles, and making Mimi part of their family. She adopted so many of them that we lost count of all her children.

I can’t say enough about the entire team. As you can imagine after two years they became our family; the Harbor her home. She lived in Harbor and died in Harbor which we are very thankful. The Harbor Team and Beacon Hospice made it possible and provided us love and support during that time. In her final days, when everyone wanted to say goodbye and give mom one last kiss, they were able to do it. Everyone shared in her living and in her death.
Sincerely,
Karen Natario, daughter

Getting Mom Back

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...they gave us almost 6 years of having our mother “back” at a level some time well before she moved there...

I am writing this to let you know what an outstanding facility you have in Crescent Point at Niantic, CT. My three siblings and I cannot thank the staff there enough. Our mother, Rita, lived there for almost 6 years before she passed away on December 19, 2009.

From the very beginning, we knew we had made the right choice for our Mom. Kathy, Deb, and the entire staff; maintenance, housekeeping, dietary, receptionists, aides, Paul the driver, the very special hairdresser Kathy, nurses and various administrators. They all always made us feel welcome and were so attentive to Mom. It was like having family around. Truly, they gave us almost 6 years of having our mother “back” at a level some time well before she moved there. There is no better way the money from the sale of her home could have been used.

Please know how very grateful we are for the care and love shown to our Mom and all of us.
Sincerely,
Carol A. Flanagan-Dupuis

The Perfect Place

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...always a smiling face and a great source of information...

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the staff in Meriden at Kensington Place for the past month because we recently moved a loved one in. I must say, I am very impressed with the staff and the facility and am sorry I didn't look into the place further when my parents were alive.
A little over a month ago, I needed to help a 90-yr-old former marine find better housing. He had recently broken his hip and due to prostate problems, has a permanent catheter. He is single and has no family in this area except a sister, age 87. He could no longer live alone in his second floor apartment and a nursing home was not the best place for his dignity or quality of life. So I went to Kensington to inquire about the place and was welcomed with open arms and all the information I required to get this gentleman into an apartment.

He moved in just after the 4th of July. He says it's a nice hotel, then he looks around and recognizes his belongings and realizes that it's now his home. The staff treat him with the respect and dignity a former WWII veteran deserves. This is very different from the nursing home/rehab center he had been at for 3 months where they treated him as an invalid and talked to him as if he were a child. Okay, so his bodily functions don't always work properly, but when there's an accident, your staff is there to help clean things up without him feeling overly embarrassed - I know this because he's mentioned how he's a bit embarrassed, but how nice they are about it. I am not a care-giver and don't have the skills to help with personal things - he's sort of an uncle to me and there are things I'd rather not do for personal care. But your staff is right there when needed. I don't have to keep checking on him like I did at the rehab center. I know he's in good hands. I do stop by often, but it's usually to work on paperwork to complete the VA Aid and Assistance forms or to chat a bit. He's an amazing story teller and because he's now in your facility, friends can visit easier than when he was home. He has more company now than if he had gone back to his apartment.

Annette has been extremely understanding, kind and patient and has sat with me to explain his care plan. Randi is always a smiling face and a great source of information - she just oozes with love of her job. Suzanne is always available if I have a question - being behind the reception desk, she gives true meaning to the phrase "open door policy" and should be commended for always having time to answer questions. I liked the way Sue handled the paperwork/contract. It was a long session, but she ensured I understood everything I was signing and I felt comfortable with all the documents.

Magda, Denise, Linda and Krista are aides that I've noticed work very well with my "uncle" and other residents and truly care about their job. Not that the other aides don't, but these are the ones I've seen the most during the day. My brother and his wife visit in the evening and have nothing but praise for the aides who work the evening shift. I also appreciate the 3rd shift crew - when my "uncle" headed for the ER in the middle of the night, I got a call promptly with all the pertinent info I needed to meet him at the ER. I couldn't have asked for a better middle-of-the-night response. I know all of the aides are great because my "uncle" doesn't complain about any of them like he did at the rehab center. There were a few at the rehab place that he told to stay out of his room. He's had nothing bad to say about anyone who has cared for him since arriving at Kensington. Plus he loves his wrist button - he says he just presses it when he needs something and someone shows up. At the rehab center, he complained that he pressed his button and no one ever came.

The entire RN staff should have gold stars given to them for all the times I've stood in their office doorway and they stopped what they were doing to answer my questions.

The receptionists always answer the phone - what a change from the rehab center where it either rang off the hook or a machine picked up. Your reception crew is pleasant and if they don't know an answer, they point me to the right person.

The maintenance crew is unbelievable. They keep the place running, looking fantastic and are very responsive when we've asked for something to be repaired or for something large to be hung on a wall. The housekeeping staff do their jobs very well.

The dining staff is to be commended on the quality of the food and the way they obviously care about the residents they serve.
I know I'm forgetting someone, but there are so many wonderful people to remember all their names and all the things they have done for my "uncle" - although I did try to do so. I hope no one is offended that I can't remember every person individually because I appreciate each and every one of them - including those I haven't met.

It's wonderful to walk through halls and never hear an employee complain about their job. Even when you walk by the break area outside, you don't hear any moaning or groaning. How nice to have placed a loved one in an environment where everyone appears to really like their job and truly care about the residents.

I could go on, but then you'd think I was laying it on a bit too thick. What I do want you to know is that The Village at Kensington Place, in my personal opinion, kicks all the other assisted living facilities' butts.
Thanks for listening.
From a satisfied niece.

Winners Live at Haverhill Crossing (a poem by residents)

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Let us tell you – Haverhill Crossings is the place for you. Why? Because there are so many things to do!...

Winners Live at Haverhill Crossings
By Residents of Haverhill Crossings:
Carol O’Donnell, Ruth Bowlby and Isabella Clay


It’s a wonderful place under the sun,
where a senior can live and have some fun.
So welcome to all – We love to greet guests.
If contentment and loving care is your quest.
Meeting our director who will introduce you to our nest.
You’ll know and spot Sam – he’s taller than the rest.
Living here has opportunities that never ever cease.
We do as much or as little as we please.
There’s exercise and cooking with our Sue.
There’s chorus, Yoga and Poker too.
There’s bowling, knitting and piano with Chris
And while he is playing you’re in total bliss.
There’s Jeopardy, Trivia and Narrow Down Words
And extra time for the Bingo Birds.
The patio with umbrellas, blooming flowers and trees
is for cook-outs and concerts with a pleasant breeze.
The library sends Penny with our favorite book.
She sites with us in our own little nook.
If you like to draw – it’s Art class for you.
Always an interesting subject – fresh and new.
Taught by a talented artist, also named Sue.
Make a date and take a walk around out lovely grounds.
The beauty of the atmosphere will turn frowns upside down.
Come enjoy your meal in our charming dining room,
you’ll come back with friends, very, very soon.
Come, chat with our residents and they will give you proof,
that they are very happy living under one roof.

A Difficult Time Made Easier

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Her manner and tone were exceptional and she has called me on more than one occasion giving the status of my mother...

Recently my 99 year old Mother, Yvonne , became a resident at your Quincy facility. From the initial contact with Jodi and tour, I realized this was a professional and dedicated organization. Jodi was thorough and concerned about my mom and our family and was not the typical salesperson that needed an answer immediately.

Once settled, Janice, the Resident Care Director introduced herself and once again another professional dedicate to the geriatric residents and their families. Her manner and tone were exceptional and she has called me on more than one occasion giving the status of my mother.
Also after the admittance, Susan, the Harbor Program Director, introduced herself and we chatted. Yes, another professional that cares.

Lastly, Marie, her primary caregiver is extremely attentive to my mom and is pleasant and relates well to the patients. I am a retired president of a financial institution and realize the importance of people skills and the above individuals possess those qualities. Hmmm, if they lived on the north shore I know of certain institutions that would welcome them immediately.
Thank you and your staff for an easy transition during this difficult time.
Very truly yours,
Peter L. DiBenedetto (son of resident)

What a Great Place to Live

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...thoroughly enjoying every minute of living among our residents and staff...

Boy, what a great place this is in which to live!! We have the greatest Activities Director, in Jane. She is a prolific in the things she has for us to do, to enrich our daily lives here.

Last evening, our joyful, helpful, caring bus driver, Ed, drove our bus, loaded with folks going to Sandy’s on the beach, here in Plymouth, for a 5 PM supper…we all had ordered our meal ahead of time, and paid Jane in advance. Even the daytime wait-staff joined in on our fun, and met us there, as did our Executive Director, Jeanne. So did Jane’s Assistant, Laura with her usual, willing help. Jane’s handsome husband, John, was also there to lend a hand. He is also our landscaper here, and does one bang-up job keeping our grounds spiffy!
When we had all finished eating, Jane announced that we were all going to be treated on the way home to an ice cream cone (on the house), from Friendly’s. Now, you can’t begin to believe what a surprise treat THAT was!!!

Jane also has many of us rehearsing to put on the play “The Wizard of Oz” next month. We enjoy many laughs during our weekly rehearsals. Of course we oldsters can’t remember lines, so we sit and read from our scripts….and Collette, a spark-plug member of our daytime wait-staff is volunteering to make costumes for us to wear and we will put the play on in our lovely dining room in mid September.
This is just another of my ‘atta-boys” Tom….I am a resident here for seven years now and am thoroughly enjoying every minute of living among our residents and staff.

As you know, it also gives me a great “kick” to be introduced to folks coming in for a “tour.” I enjoy giving them my P.R. spiel…and add that I’m not being paid for what I say either. It truly is a happy, safe, warm home for many of us and I ask Gods blessing, not only on everyone here, staff and residents alike, but on you, too, Tom, who began this wonderful organization. May He prosper it for years to come!
Enthusiastically,
Trudy Nelson (resident of Plymouth Crossings)

Security and Confidence

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...the quality of care she has received at your facility has dramatically changed her life...

I write to acknowledge the care my mother has received at Orchard Valley at Wilbraham, Massachusetts. My family and I felt compelled to draft a letter of recommendation on behalf of Ms. Barrett. I cannot emphasize enough the enormous amount of security and confidence we have in my mother’s care at Orchard Valley. My mother was at a different facility approximately a year ago and the quality of care she has received at your facility has dramatically changed her life with Ms. Barrett playing extremely important part of the health care team at Orchard Valley. My entire family is so appreciative of Ms. Barrett’s “hands on” approach and her ability to compassionately deal with a variety of problems.

Another important characteristic that Ms. Barrett possesses is her candor. It is refreshing to deal with an individual who has the courage to speak her mind coupled with the intelligence to temper her opinion. She consistently deals with situations in a straightforward and honest manner. She possesses a great ability to quickly problem solve and share her analysis with colleagues. I say without hesitation that my mother’s life has dramatically improved because of Ms. Barrett’s performance. She is a credit to your facility.
Written by the son of a resident at Orchard Valley at Wilbraham

Our Second Family

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I cannot tell you how much I appreciated having these people in my mom's life...

Dear Mitch,
 
I'd like to share the story of my mother, Julia’s life at the Village of Willow Crossings.
 
In June 2000 my mom moved to the Village at Willow Crossings from Philadelphia.  My mom was 88 years old and had lived in her Philadelphia home for 50 years.  My dad had died six years earlier and the time had come when she decided she did not want to live alone and wanted to be closer to me and my family.  The Village was my mother's home until her death, at 98, in November 2010.
 
I can say that the Village at Willow Crossings was a wonderful place for my mother to spend her last years.  My mom had lived in Philadelphia all of her life, so coming to Massachusetts with unfamiliar accents and new sports teams was not easy.  The staff at the Village were so welcoming and inclusive, it wasn't long before she felt right at home with her new surroundings (and became a Red Sox fan!).
 
At 88 my mom had the energy of someone much younger.  She eagerly took advantage of all the Village had to offer - from the entertainment to the activities and outings.  I don't think in ten years my mom missed more than a dozen Bingo games.  In fact, the lure of Bingo helped her recover from several illnesses.
 
When Benchmark took over management of the Village, we were worried about the quality of the services and if the Village community would change.  I can say that in the last few years the quality of the care and services at the Village has gotten better.  As my mom became frailer and needed more care the Village was able to provide for all her needs. 
 
As an only child with no family in Massachusetts, I felt the staff at the Village become our second family. The Village staff from the front desk to the nursing staff to the housekeeping, maintenance, activities, dining room were always caring and helpful to my mom.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciated having these people in my mom's life. 
 
Nursing - Karen - her caring and compassion when my mother died was over and above anything I expected.  Ann - her kindness and caring helped me and my mother so many times, especially in the last year which was a difficult one for me.  Pam - my mom enjoyed their talks about sewing, Kris  whose Italian my mom said was excellent, Peggy -my mom was always glad to see her, she felt well cared for with her, Lucia- she made my mom laugh and watch Dancing with the Stars, Karen , Lucille, Mary, Andrea, Carol, Stacey, Kayla - all my mom counted as her friends.
 
Housekeeping - Judy - who always gave my mom a hug. I am not sure of the names of the other housekeeping people who were always so helpful to my mom.
 
Maintenance - Dave, Bill and Paul who fixed my mom's glasses and her remote control so many times. 
 
Reception - Pamela, Jane, Charlotte, Sharyn - nothing was too much for them to do to help my mom and me with any problem we might have had.  
 
Activities - Jill  - my mom felt a special affection for Jill since she remembers helping Jill on her first day working at the Village.  Maryellen, Monique - thank you for your kindness to my mom.
 
Dining - Tricia - who always treated my mom's concerns with respect and kindness. 
 
Administration - Linsley, Tricia and you, Mitch, were always attentive to my mom's concerns.
 
I have probably missed someone who cared for my mom and I apologize for that but you all have my sincere thanks for your professionalism and the quality of care you gave.
 
Elaine Price