Tuesday, June 30, 2015

TOP STORY >> Huckeby House opening soon

Leader staff writer

The Huckeby House Adult Day Health Care center plans to open next week in Sherwood. The facility hopes to bring fun and engagement to our most undervalued assets, according to administrator Sandra Mancell.

“We are very home-style, not institutional, like some of the others,” she emphasized, comparing the center to a 12-hour nursing home, but one that lends a hand to seniors who remain independent by going home in the evenings and on weekends.

“We want them to feel comfortable and home. I mean, nobody wants to go to a doctor’s office, a hospital-type setting. We’re trying to keep them at home rather than having to go into a nursing home, which then possibly would cost them as much as $6,000 a month.”

The center is licensed for 50 “elders,” ages 55 and up.

Offerings of the 16,000-square-foot Huckeby House at 100 Shadow Oaks Drive include the following “play, fun and fabulous ideas”:

• physical, occupational and speech therapy through a partnership with Arkansas Physical Therapy and Wellness Center;

• medication management,

• Alzheimer’s and dementia care;

• meals and snacks;

• exercise classes;

• back-and-forth transportation for those who qualify to have that cost covered by Medicaid;

• arts and crafts;

• sewing, crochet and knitting clubs (the center has a working treble-foot Singer sewing machine from 1908, Mancell said);

• a game room with a pool table, cards and more;

• napping rooms for both genders;

• a “pet shop” where elders, especially those suffering from dementia, can “check out” a stuffed animal to care for throughout the day;

• a real-life rabbit and two cockatiels to interact with;

• a TV, movie and media room;

• once-a-week lessons from a piano teacher, who is trained to work with dementia patients and contracted from a national company;

• and a computer room where elders can be trained in using technology like Facebook and Skype to connect with relatives that live in other states and countries.

There is also a library with books from when the elders were students, Mancell said. “When they progress back with dementia, they progress back with age,” she explained, noting that the library will help with behavior modification when the elders become stressed.

“We can bring out something they know and will recognize because they’ve already progressed back and be able to do a little one-on-one and be able to calm them down.” Mancell said.

She added that, while the facility can’t provide Farmers’ Market produce because of its licensing requirements, elders could bring vegetables in to prepare at Huckeby House and take home.

“We’re trying to be centered around them, not us and our industry. It’s all about them,” Mancell continued. “We’re just trying to give back to our elders in our community.”

She lamented, “Today’s generation has no use for our elderly population, which is a shame.”

Mancell also said the center is more affordable than a nursing home.

The rate is $10 per hour with a four-hour minimum.

The monthly cost for eight hours a day is $1,600. The monthly cost for the maximum, 12 hours a day, is $2,000.

Private pay and Medicaid — pending licensure and via the Elders’ Choice program — will be accepted. Long-term insurance that would pay for a nursing home could cover services, too, according to the administrator.

The Arkansas Alzheimer’s Association also awards $500 grants for respite care that would help pay for Huckeby House services, she added.

The center is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the staff will stay later if caregivers call and ask them to, Mancell said.

The full medical staff of 25 — CNAs, LPNs and Executive Director Lynda Coberley, who is an RN — has decades of experience.

Elders will be assigned to groups, five to one CNA, which Huckeby House hopes they will build a bond with. Elders will spend all day, even meals, with their CNA.

Mancell said family members are also encouraged to call that CNA after hours if they need a night out, although that service would be offered by the individual staff member and not the center.

Several elders are already signed up and “everyone is excited about it,” the administrator told The Leader last week.

Why is she so passionate about her work? It’s a family tradition, and the facility was named for Mancell’s family. She is the fourth generation to work in this industry.

Mancell said, “I was raised to be respectful of my elders. Still to this day, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, if I’m in a restaurant and I see somebody that’s having some physical problems that needs some help, I’m opening doors. I’m checking on them; do they need help getting to their table?”

She said history is not being taught as much as it should be and that seniors are waiting to impart stories you won’t find in a textbook.

“That’s our goal, is to pay tribute back to them and maybe teach a new generation what they didn’t learn in school: to respect our elders, to listen to them. They are a wealth of knowledge,” Mancell concluded.

Coberley, her business partner, said she does this because her parents never knew a stranger and she wanted to be a nurse at age 10 because they help people. Her family has also worked in the elderly care industry.