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Member Spotlight - Cedar Hill Continuing Care

Business Spotlight Article #3: Cedar Hill Continuing Care

For Release 2nd Week of August, 2016

Contact: Caitlin Christiana - Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce


Business Spotlight: Cedar Hill Continuing Care

by Caitlin Christiana, Springfield Regional Chamber

On a midsummer afternoon in Windsor, Vermont, the grounds at Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community are in full bloom and the scent of roses floats in the air. Several large, white buildings are situated along a quintessential New England hillside, flanked by well-manicured lawns and an impressive array of colorful flowering bushes. The sun is shining and the yard is peaceful and quiet, with the exception of an occasional bird chattering nearby. It seems a shame for anyone to be cooped up indoors on a day as beautiful as this, and as it turns out, the staff at Cedar Hill had the very same thought. Chairs have been set up around several tables across a stone patio and elderly residents are being individually escorted to their seats so that they may enjoy their lunch outdoors in the fresh air.

Inside the central building, the atmosphere is calm and the staff is friendly. Owner Patricia Horn strolls the halls greeting employees and residents by name and assisting with wheelchairs and walkers as she chats. It’s immediately obvious that she loves her job. “Running a business is one of the most creative jobs you can have,” she smiles. “Being an entrepreneur is very rewarding, and the work benefits so many people.” Originally founded in 1988 by Patricia’s mother, Mary Louise Sayles, and her friend Judy Brogren, Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community began as a 30 bed nursing home. Over time, the facility was expanded significantly, and today employs more than 120 staff members and serves over 100 residents. Now 81 years old, Mary splits her time between Florida and Vermont, spending six months of the year living and working at Cedar Hill. “She still works forty hours a week when she’s here,” Patricia reveals.

Patricia began working for Cedar Hill in 2006 and soon realized how much she enjoyed it. Two years later, she and her family made the decision to move from Philadelphia to Vermont, so that she could work more closely with her mom and become more devoted to the family business. It turned out to be a rewarding choice. “When I walk in the door, I’m happy. I love being here,” she says. Cedar Hill strives to be a premier community where “everybody matters.” For Patricia, that mission is a continuous source of inspiration.

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the stigma of nursing homes that provided poor care twenty or thirty years ago. The challenge is to break down those outdated negative stereotypes and educate the public about how things have evolved since then. In a world where people are living longer, at a time when the health care system in our country is fractured, the staff at Cedar Hill work to develop models for a new era of aging – one where individuals can enjoy the best possible quality of life at every stage of their lifespan. “You can have a very rewarding life,” Patricia explains, “but at some point, you want to manage less.” People are very individual in their needs. For example, the care facility assists many married couples who are in various phases of their aging processes. With the flexibility that Cedar Hill offers, the couples are able to get support and still live together. They can continue to take care of each other while receiving the help they need. “The industry has changed, but helping someone frail and older hasn’t really changed,” Patricia points out.

While in the past it was often customary for families to care for their aging relatives, in this day and age many people may not have grown up caring for an elderly person. This evolution has resulted in somewhat of a cultural loss of respect for elders; Patricia reminds people that older folks play an important role in our society and they should be appreciated for the greater understanding of the world that they’ve gained in their time. At Cedar Hill, the residents are still part of the bigger community and not segregated away. One of the overarching philosophies of the organization is that community involvement leads to a better quality of life, whereas isolation can actually harm your health. The campus hosts countless events open to the public, including concerts, craft fairs, ongoing educational seminars focusing on everything from nutrition to managing illnesses, and even an “Antiques Road Show” appraisal fair. These activities help the residents to remain engaged with the issues and people they care about.

Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community is located in Windsor, Vermont and serves all of the surrounding communities within a twenty mile radius. They provide a continuum of services on the non-smoking campus. In addition to a nursing home and an assisted living facility, there is also a memory care wing for folks living with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, and this year marked the launch of a brand new out-patient therapy program. A benefit of this added service is the opportunity for potential future residents to visit the campus, get to know the staff and receive treatment on site, which helps to create a more natural transition to live-in care, if and when the time comes.

The campus offers a range of housing options, including shared and private rooms. The newest Village apartments feature step-in showers, pivoting mirrors, built-in stability railings and wheelchair access. There is individual cooling and heating in each apartment, and all of the spaces are designed to promote the greatest amount of comfort and independence possible for the residents. Hot breakfast made to order is available every morning, and there is a restaurant with dinner specials every evening. A library filled with books is also equipped with a computer and the opportunity to Skype; continuing education is always encouraged. There are common areas for socializing, as well as large family rooms available to be booked for birthday and anniversary celebrations. The hair salon ensures that everyone can look their best, and a small chapel offers a peaceful space for spiritual practices. Residents are welcome to bring their well-behaved cats or small dogs to live with them, and for those who don’t own pets, colorful birds, cats and “Midnight” the bunny are available for conversations and snuggles.

It’s clear that Cedar Hill cares about their clients, and they’re doing all they can to continue broadening their services to meet the increasing needs of the region. Patricia expresses some frustration at the shortage of qualified workers in the area, saying they’ve had to turn away residents because “we don’t have enough employees to give the quality of care that we promise.” With ten acres of room to expand, and a need for more private rooms to cater to the anticipated influx of the baby boomer generation, the search for capable staff is a major concern. In a proactive effort to improve the situation, Cedar Hill has developed a partnership with River Valley Community College to help create more licensed nursing assistants.

In spite of the challenges faced, Cedar Hill is a cheerful and welcoming environment bustling with vibrant activity, and people are happy in this place. As Patricia makes her rounds through the memory care wing, she encounters an older couple making their way slowly along the corridor; a coaxing wife helping her fragile husband to take his daily walk. They smile brightly when they see Patricia and she greets them warmly, commending their cooperative effort. The elderly woman raises an eyebrow playfully, saying, “He’s not twenty anymore!” Her husband chuckles, and answers with a spirited grin, “No, I’m twenty-one!”

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