ParentCare » Vol. 5

An Old Mansion is a Unique Home for Seniors

By Cristal Perriello

Dodge park Rest Home

Dodge park Rest Home

Picture an old mansion with unpaved roads and horse drawn carriages, located right in the heart of Worcester. Dodge Park Rest Home, a converted mansion, still has that feel ~ except it is home to 60 seniors.

“The concept, the approach, the experience and the direct response of all team members is what makes Dodge Park Rest Home a unique model of care,” says Micha Shalev, co- owner and director of the home.

Shalev and her partner Ben Herlinger bought the rest home last year from Tony and Bobby Penny. They will be celebrating the 41st anniversary of the home in September.

“Our rest home offers something very unique in regard to level of care, staffing ratio and consumers options,” says Shalev.

Historically, rest homes in Massachusetts were known for caring mainly for young adults with mental disabilities, says Shalev. Due to rapid and constant change in the continuum of care and the introduction of assisted-living in the state, seniors now have more choices. But a large gap still exists between assisted living and the traditional nursing home. Rest homes help fill that gap.

“Dodge Park is caring for a specific segment of the market and our specialty is the frail and elderly and those that suffer from memory impairment that want still to remain in a home-like environment,” says Herlinger.

Dodge Park is a medium to large size facility where the owners are involved with daily aspects of operation and where they oversee all departments.

Pet Therapy is one of the many activities in the day club

Pet Therapy is one of the many activities in the day club

Another unique feature of Dodge Park is its Social Model Day Club, which offers day care and activities for seniors in the community. It is an affordable alternative to costly in-home companion care. “At a little under $8 an hour, the public can receive access to ongoing stimulation, activities, meals, supervision, events, shows and much more,” explains Shalev.

Whether you are inpatient or outpatient, the facility offers programs inside and outside the home. Inside programs include yoga, chair exercises, body relaxation, music, walking and stretching, arts and crafts and even Nintendo Wii. “It simulates tennis, boxing, and bowling, it is highly recommended by the physical therapy team,” says Herlinger. “We also have entertainers who come on a regular basis.”

Outside activities include restaurant trips, museum visits, baseball games and tickets to the movies.

One of the favorite activities of Dodge Park’s clientele is music. “It is very emotional to watch elderly with memory impairment singing along with a smile on their faces,” says Herlinger.

When a resident of Dodge Park runs out of funds, they can stay as under the state Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program. The state pays rest homes for rent for people who have exhausted their private funds, who do not own any real estate, and who have no more than $2,000 in their bank account. “This [program] does not exist in assisted living,” says Herlinger. “Many assisted living homes require a four to five year minimum commitment for private funds.”

Dodge Park also takes care of younger adults who have suffered a stroke or heart attack and who can no longer function on their own at home and need more care and supervision.

Arts & Crafts

Arts & Crafts

Supervision is something they have plenty of at Dodge Park ~ there is one staff member for every six seniors. “This ratio allow us to provide a state-of-the-art direct care approach that includes daily showers, transportation management program for all medical and dental care, seven days a week and over 120 hours of activities, plus gourmet meals,” says Shalev.

Another point of pride is their monthly support group for caregivers. With an experienced group leader who is trained as a social worker and specializes in the geriatric population, they allow the caregivers to bring their loved ones during the support group meeting. The Day Club staff provides activity and supervision during the meeting, so the caregiver can truly relax.

Shalev and Herlinger are no strangers to the business. Before taking over Dodge Park, they were co-owners of the Shalev Family Home, Inc., a business that specialized in residential care facilities for the elderly, and Shalev Family Companion, Inc., a staffing corporation that specialized in assisting consumers with in-home care. They ran those businesses for the last two decades.

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