Louisville’s Nazareth Home seeks ‘thriving image’ while putting seniors first
Source: Louisville Courier Journal
By: Sarah Ladd
At Nazareth Home, President and CEO Mary Haynes’ philosophy is: “The elder is always in the driver’s seat.”
She believes that’s part of what makes the long-term care facilities, established in 1976 as a ministry and sponsored by the Sisters of Charity, a great place to work and live.
“Aging in America is seen as a negative so often,” said Haynes, who’s been with Nazareth Home since 2001. “That’s so interesting to me, because we are all aging all the time. And it’s not so bad. You know? It’s not so bad. Everybody wants to live a long time, but nobody wants to be old.”
That’s why she tries to “bust that old image,” she said, “and try to have a thriving image.” That thriving image comes through at Nazareth, which has two locations in Louisville and 375 employees.
The nonprofit was recognized in this year’s Top Workplaces survey, finishing fourth among employers with 300 or more employees in the Louisville region.
Some of the respondents in the anonymous survey said they enjoy working there because of their coworkers and the job. One worker said, “I know my voice is heard and valued.” Another said, “I am surrounded by people living the mission.”
“Everyone treats just not the residents but each other with Respect,” another respondent said.
Hanging in hallways throughout the Newburg Road location are calendars packed with events: yoga, movie night, painting, hair and nails fun, bingo, trivia, Catholic Mass, music concerts, and many more.
Art painted by elders adorns the hallways − seashells stuck to brown and blues, the ocean meeting sand. Elders enjoy happy hours regularly.
Still, COVID-19 restrictions remain. The Wednesday night supper club, complete with family and friends, a special menu, a cocktail of the week and “blaring” music, hasn’t made a post-COVID return yet, though Haynes hopes that can happen soon.
COVID forced isolation, reactivity
The last few years, especially 2020, presented long-term care facilities with a unique set of challenges. The virus swept through facilities across Kentucky and hurting vulnerable populations the most before any vaccines to combat it were approved.
“The hardest part of course, was the isolation,” Haynes said. With families not able to come inside for normal visits, Nazareth had to step up its use of technology, she added, including an iN2L system, bank teller mics and Zoom. iN2L stands for “It’s Never Too Late,” which Haynes described as similar to a smart television.
Haynes said Nazareth likes being able to plan ahead, but COVID-19 put her in a position of being responsive to the changing tide of the pandemic. And all the while, families were stuck outside, unable to enter for physical visits for fear of bringing the virus to the most vulnerable.
“I’ve been involved in long-term care provision for many years,” she said. “And there was never a year like that one. And it was really two years. And of course, we’re still in a precaution mode, and we’re still testing.”
There were bright moments. Haynes said one night, elders had a wine tasting night, guided by a man in California through the smart TV. Staff, she said, “could take everybody to Napa.”
Looking to the future
Haynes said her immediate goals at Nazareth for the next few years are stabilizing her workforce after losing some staff during the pandemic and struggling to attract employees to long-term care while the virus raged.
“How can we be more flexible? How can we be more creative?” she asks herself. “How can we create different time and work opportunities? We will never, obviously, be a remote workplace.”
What she can do is look at ways to be more flexible with the ways people want to work, she said, while still being a relationship and environment-first workplace.
“If we can get people in the door,” she said, “they see that it’s a great place to be.”
Reach health reporter Sarah Ladd at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah.
Locations in the region: Two, at 2000 Newburg Road and 2120 Payne St.
Employees in the region: 376
Top executive: CEO Mary Haynes