The 100 or so people who call the Hearth at Sycamore Village home have a date with a national spotlight Tuesday.
A video crew from In View, an educational and documentary series, is scheduled to be at the senior living and assisted living facility Tuesday to find out more about how it operates. In View is an independent series hosted by Larry King.
Hearth Management, which owns the Hearth at Sycamore Village (just north of Indiana 14 on the Whitley-Allen county line), owns other facilities in Indiana, Tennessee, Connecticut and New York, but all the video work is scheduled to take place at the Allen County operation.
Like many other private-pay facilities for people who need more help with daily living, the Heath schedules many activities for residents. The difference, said Mary Pat Suits, Hearth's coordinator of Live More, lies in the personal attention every resident gets from the 85 or so staff members.
The company calls the program Live More, Suits said, and it creates a system for tending to enriching residents' lives in eight areas: emotional, spiritual, nutritional, social, physical, intellectual, environmental (that is, their physical surroundings) and vocational.
David Deffenbaugh, executive director of the Hearth at Sycamore Village, said the vocational component is not simply a therapeutic regimen. “It means purposeful living,” he said. “Do they feel they are giving back to their community in some way?”
One of the best examples of this vocational involvement in the world came in January 2010, when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Although this was only a year-and-a-half after the Hearth here opened, the residents saw an opportunity to help, despite the diminished physical abilities many of them live with.
“They made fleece blankets to be sent to Haiti,” Deffenbaugh remembered, noting that residents themselves not only did the work but organized different tasks involved in it.
Suits said Think Well is a program designed to help maintain or sharpen mental abilities of residents. The Hearth offers sessions twice a week, lasting about 60 to 90 minutes each and led by trained facilitators. Residents meet in small groups, typically three to five people and work on problem-solving, writing, reading, map reading, math and other mental skills.
“It's very much resident-driven,” she said. As important as honing intellectual skills are “the relationships that are developed in the group,” she said.
After residents complete a course of physical therapy, the Hearth follows up with specially trained nursing assistants – “wellness aides” – who work one-on-one or in small groups with residents to see that they follow prescribed routines to preserve physical gains.
“It's a very dynamic process that we're willing to do and we think they deserve,” Suits said.
Daniel Suits, chief operating officer of Hearth Management, said Live More, Think More and wellness-aides activities are included in the basic rates for residents. “We think it's so important that we didn't want an additional cost to deter anyone from taking part,” he said.