Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 3:44 am on

I’ve never been impressed with agencies or services managed by our state government. I know I’m not alone and I bet if I were to survey others on their experiences, the feeling would be the same.

Likewise, I’ve never been impressed with nursing homes in general. Having dealt with four private facilities in the past, I could easily provide a laundry list of negatives that would make the Eskimo practice of putting their aged loved ones on an ice floe to die, a preferable alternative.

With that said, I would like to tell you about a government nursing home that serves as model for all long-term care facilities. A year ago, the NJ Veterans Home in Menlo Park, admitted my uncle for long-term nursing care. In selecting Menlo Park, I read the following on the State of New Jersey website:

The Division of Veterans Healthcare Services operates three modern long-term care nursing homes located in Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland. These homes are inspected and licensed annually by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comprehensive services and a deep concern for the residents go hand-in-hand at New Jersey’s three state-operated veterans’ nursing homes. Around-the-clock medical and nursing care is provided by a full-time staff of physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and trained nursing assistants. Rehabilitative services, such as occupational and physical therapies, speech therapy, and recreational activities are provided under the direct supervision of licensed therapists. A wide range of other medical services is also offered. These include dental, podiatric, and dermatological care. Resident accommodations are assigned based on care required and availability, and are either private, semi-private or four-bed rooms, each equipped with a nurse-call system for immediate nursing care. In spacious dining rooms, residents are provided with wholesome meals prepared under the supervision of licensed dietitians. Tray service is available when necessary and special care is given to individually prescribed diets.

For the convenience and comfort of the residents, the homes feature fully equipped beauty and barbershops, lounges for socializing and watching television, outdoor patios and recreation areas, picnic grounds, and chapels for religious services for all faiths.

Recreational activities available include gardening, ceramics and other arts and crafts, cooking, bingo, shopping trips, music, art and pet therapy programs, movies, dinner trips, fishing excursions, billiards, and trips to sporting events.

The facilities are open to veterans of all wars who served on active duty and were honorably discharged, qualified National Guard/Reserve Retirees, the veteran’s spouse, and to spouses and parents of members of the military who were killed in action during a period of war (Gold Star Parent). A spouse/widow/widower must be at least 50 years of age and must have been married to the veteran for a period of not less than 10 years. Preference is given to applicants who were state residents for at least two years immediately prior to application for admission. Applicants must meet certain asset limitation criteria. Residents pay according to ability based on income.

On paper it sounded too good to be true, but the experience has been even better! As a consultant who teaches others how to manage, I point to Menlo Park as an example of an extremely well run business! In the last year I have had contact with reception, nursing, administrative, medical and janitorial personnel. I’ve also had the chance to talk to other residents. Here are my observations:

  • The facility is beautifully designed, well maintained and it is spotless!
  • The people at Menlo Park know their jobs and take pride in what they do.
  • Staff members genuinely care about the veterans and treat them with respect.
  • The atmosphere is upbeat with plenty of activities.
  • Menlo Park’s excellent care has stabilized my uncle’s health and has provided him with good quality of life

As someone who had no use for government agencies and less use for nursing homes, I’m proud to say that my state has chosen to provide so well for its heroes.

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