Summit Place Assisted Living is a family—a place where those who need extra support in their later years can find comfort, joy, and love. And as a family, it’s a priority to ensure that Summit Place residents have space to process the loss that’s an inevitable part of life.
It’s important to have ways to honor, cherish, and remember those who have passed on, especially during this time when gatherings are still on hold. Summit Place Assisted Living has found a beautiful solution: a garden and water feature with stones to remember residents who no longer live at Summit Place. Whether they’ve passed away, moved, or required a higher level of care, the stones are each engraved with the name of such a resident.
The stones are beach rocks, lovingly collected, and are nestled beneath a water feature. “There’s a symbolism with rocks and water,” says Carrie Danielsen, who works for the management company that oversees Summit Place and other similar centers. “For centuries, there have always been stones used for remembering someone who’s passed. A stone doesn’t go away. It lasts forever, and so will the memories.”
Jozef Bosman, the executive director of Summit Place, describes the feature as, “a way for residents to reflect and remember their friends. We also write cards to the families of their loved ones with memories of their loved one that we have. We have memories that the family doesn’t because we care for a different part of their [the residents’] journey. It helps families have closure, love, and memories to remember their person.”
That thoughtfulness extends beyond remembrance and into the daily lives of the residents, especially during a pandemic that is specifically dangerous to the population they care for. “We’re trying to think of creating ways to give people joy and excitement,” says Bosman. “We had a horse come by and visit through their windows! People are still talking about it today, even those with some memory issues—they remember the horse looking through their window.”
It’s that family element of Summit Place that sets it apart. “It’s those moments of joy,” Danielsen says. “It’s surrounding those residents with love and care. We’re a family. We take care of the residents and their family, too.”
The most rewarding part of Bosman’s work? “Taking care of the residents and making sure they’re happy,” he says without hesitation. “We want to let them know that they’re loved, and that we’ll do anything we can to make them feel comfortable.” When COVID hit the building, it caused a lot of fear. “Taking care of everybody and making sure they weren’t scared was so important.”
Summit Place has been ensuring residents were safe since the beginning of the crisis. “We started emailing families,” Danielsen says. “We would tell them how things were, keep them updated.” And the email tradition has continued, although in a more upbeat fashion. “We have a lot of really nice things to say now instead of frightening things.”
And there are plenty of good things to tell families about. “We try to think outside the box,” Bosman says. “We set up a milkshake stand to get people to exercise and move. One by one, residents came down and placed an order and had a milkshake!”
COVID precautions means that the Summit Place team has had to get even more creative. “We’re doing a socially distanced Hawaiian barbeque,” Bosman says with enthusiasm. “We’re just trying to have fun. When it comes down to it, the residents are happy.”
That happiness is part of the ongoing work Bosman and his team have done to make sure Summit Place is safe and thriving during the pandemic. “They’ve done a great job on educating residents,” Danielsen says. “It’s become a new normal to wash hands, keep distant, wear masks, and wait for people to pass in the hall.”
Just because the new normal involves more rules and regulations doesn’t mean the new normal can’t also offer opportunities for joy, creativity, and reflection. Summit Place Assisted Living excels at all three, with the garden and water feature being an embodiment of their values of care and love.