When giving tours at Shillman House, one of the six JCHE independent living communities for seniors, we are always asked about coverage for emergencies. Families want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone is looking after their loved one, regardless of the time of day or the type of situation.
We see this coverage as a critical element in the support we offer our residents. In each of our buildings, two apartments are home to our “site representatives,” individuals who actually live in the building and who alternate the responsibility for looking after the residents and the property during hours when the administrative staff isn’t there. This is typically after 5 pm Monday to Friday and around the clock on weekends and holidays. Whether it is 2 am on a Tuesday or 1 pm on a Sunday, a site representative is ready to respond to emergencies such as a resident who has pulled an emergency cord or one who has a “stopped-up” sink in an apartment.
The site representatives are the “first responders” who assess the situation and then make a determination whether to call 911 in the case of a medical issue or the maintenance staff. In most cases, plumbing or electrical problems will be addressed the next day that the maintenance staff is on duty unless the problem requires a simple fix that the site representative can handle right then and there. Whether it is a big problem or not, the site representatives will respond and be sure to record their actions so the Executive Director can read what transpired in his or her absence.
Both residents and families get comfort knowing that staff is on-duty around the clock. For the administrative team, it is essential to know whether residents needed an off-hours emergency response so they can keep an eye on things going forward.
Carl Zack is JCHE's Chief of Operations