At age 95, Rita Stachniak lived at an Independent Living community, but she wasn’t really very independent anymore. Her son Rob made sure she had caregivers coming in to help her with bathing, cooking, cleaning, and other activities that Rita couldn’t do on her own. Then one day, with a caregiver present, Rita fell backwards and broke two vertebrae.
“We knew we were on borrowed time in independent living,” Rob says, “but this fall made it clear that we had to make adjustments.”
Because the fall and subsequent medical treatment happened during the pandemic, Rob wasn’t able to visit his mom, and she became so disoriented, she couldn’t even pick up the phone for a call. After a trip to rehab, then a trip back to the hospital, Rob and the doctors decided Rita needed a new place to live. A friend of his recommended Victorian Village.
“She said it was the Cadillac of nursing homes,” he says. “So I reached out and Mom started in rehab there. That’s when everything started getting better.”
Rob was able to talk to the people giving his mom care, from the Admissions Director, to the Nurse Practitioner, to the Life Enrichment Director. They worked with Rita’s doctor and began implementing changes into her routine, and they coordinated window visits and opportunities for social interactions.
“At first, she was so disoriented and in pain that she couldn’t tell her remote control from a telephone,” Rob says. “She didn’t know who anyone in her family was. Her mind had always been sharp, and now she was so confused.” Then slowly but steadily, with the attention of staff and the devotion of family, Rita became herself again.
“Now I had another decision to make,” Rob says. “Where would she live? Would she go back to Independent Living, or should she transition to Assisted Living? Or should she stay at the Small House and enter long-term care?”
Rob came to the conclusion that the Small House was his best option.
“A private room with the ratio of one nurse and two aides for ten people? You can’t get that ratio anywhere,” he says. “That is huge. You don’t know how huge that is.”
Rob and Rita both complement many of the staff by name. “It’s easy to get to know the staff when it’s such a small building,” he says. “Mom knows them and they know Mom. And that’s such a comfort. The staff here work their hearts out each day,” Rob says. “I’ve seen it for myself. The little things they do make a big difference. I challenge you to find care like this anywhere else.”
Now that Rob can visit in person, he’s happy to report that Rita is happy and doing well. He takes her out somewhere once a week, and the rest of the time, he knows she’s safe at Victorian Village, whether he’s visiting or not. “I’m her caregiver and I love her dearly,” Rob says. “And now I can relax and focus on other aspects of my life while she’s there, because I know she’s being taken care of. And that’s a blessing.”