Benchmark Compassionate Caregiver Award Winner 2018: John Njihia

March 23, 2019

When a family member first met our 2018 Compassionate Caregiver Award winner, she remembers how caring, attentive and joyful this associate was. Ultimately, it was the acts of everyday kindness and generosity and the ability to be a caregiver and a friend that made a lasting impression. 

With always a kind word or story to share, this individual gives advice while honoring each residents’ independence. Dedicated. Inspirational. Generous. And a gracious, “100% present” life saver . . . .

Benchmark presented the 2018 Compassionate Caregiver Award to Resident Care Associate John Njihia of Benchmark Senior Living at Robbins Brook, Acton, Massachusetts.

The award is named after the Compassionate Caregiver Award presented annually by The Schwartz Center. It’s named after a good friend of Benchmark CEO Tom Grape, Ken Schwartz, who died tragically many years ago from lung cancer at a much too young age. 

Ken was the son of a doctor and prominent heath care attorney in Boston. Because of his connections through his family, his profession and living in Boston, Ken had access to the very best medical care possible for his condition, but, unfortunately, his disease was not able to be contained. 

During his illness, 25 years ago, while surrounded by the best diagnosticians and the finest medical treatments available, Ken wrote a touching article published in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine describing the healing touch of a caregiver. 

He talked about all the fancy gizmos and smart people tending to him that he felt blessed to have. But he described that he was most affected when a nurse would come in and put a hand on his shoulder, or a caregiver would come in and simply look in his eyes and listen to him talk about his feelings. 

He emphasized how important it was that the caregivers were there to tend to his emotions and to what he was going through while doctors and others were trying to treat his disease. That, to him, was “compassionate caregiving.”

After Ken died, his family and others founded the Schwartz Center to promote compassionate caregiving in hundreds of hospitals -- not only around the country but also around the world.  

Benchmark was the first senior living organization to participate in what are called “The Schwartz Center Rounds.” Each year, The Schwartz Center dinner raises almost $1 million, and Benchmark associates attend this touching evening when caregivers are honored. CEO Tom Grape has been a Schwartz Center dinner co-chair on two different occasions over the last number of years.

Benchmark launches its annual nomination process for the Compassionate Caregiver Award in December and gives its residents and family members a chance to nominate their beloved caregivers.

One month is allotted for the nomination process, and, in 2018, over 450 nominations were submitted! Many associates received two or more nominations from different residents and family members.


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