Many familiar with Waveny Care Network say that it is “more than a network, it’s a world—a world of caring."
Heather Neff, CEO of Waveny
Care Network, on Main Street
in The Village.
Waveny - A World of Caring
by Peter J. O’Connell, Editorial and Research Associate
The world of Waveny Care Network was conceived in the early 1970s, when the people of New Canaan, moved by a concern for the quality of life of their neighbors, determined to create a healthcare facility to meet the needs of older adults. They launched a successful array of fundraising activities, and these contributions from the community led to the establishment of Waveny Care Center in 1975. The Center grew into the Network, which has always been a not-for-profit charitable organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Although New Canaan residents are accorded first consideration for admission to the Network’s programs and services, applicants from any geographic location are strongly encouraged to apply and are admitted in the order of applications received.
Let’s take a journey through the world of Waveny, with Heather Neff, Network CEO, and Kristin Sinatra, Marketing Director, as our guides. Both women point out that Waveny has evolved like a living organism, with programs and service offerings added over the years as the varied and changing needs of seniors, their families and their caregivers became evident. Visitors often comment that although Waveny’s attractive brick main complex, in its pleasant Farm Road setting, was started in 1975, it somehow looks much younger than that. Sinatra calls the design “ageless” and says that it was deliberate so as to accommodate growth. Neff and Sinatra emphasize that Waveny’s growth has been controlled by a “vision.” That vision is of “a comprehensive, collaborative and compassionate continuum of care.”
Waveny Care Center, one of three residential complexes in the Network and the core of the continuum, is often considered unique among its peers in the healthcare industry because of the numerous on-site services and benefits that it provides its residents and patients, both inpatients and outpatients. This 76-bed skilled nursing and long-term care facility offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and nutrition and wellness programs. These are accompanied by educational, cultural, spiritual and intergenerational activities. The programs and activities are carried out in a collaborative way by a staff organized into multidisciplinary teams--a staff that, at all levels, Neff and Sinatra say, is warm, caring, highly qualified and professional. Sinatra points out that Waveny has low staff turnover, with average tenure exceeding five years, and says that the Network’s staff training and support systems show that it cares for “those who care for others.” Neff told Management Today magazine, which carried an article praising her leadership at Waveny, that “No matter who you are, you have to have compassion and remain focused on the goal of providing person-centered care.” Waveny Care Center’s success at providing person-centered care has placed it among the elite few institutions that have received accreditation from the prestigious Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions, whose standards exceed those of the state and federal governments.
In addition to skilled nursing and long-term care, Waveny’s continuum—its progression of programs, services and residential options--includes:
• Adult Day Program. This program is aimed at improving the quality of life of older adults living at home but who may, during the day, require personal assistance with some of the activities of daily living, medical monitoring or simply more interaction with other people. They can receive these services—and more—at Waveny The program is available six days a week with flexible hours and transportation provided for those living in neighboring towns. Neff and Sinatra point out that the Adult Day Program helps carry out Waveny’s “culture of compassion and collaboration” by giving caregivers a chance to regain the peace of mind that they need to work, run a household or simply relax. The women say that it “gives caregivers peace of mind while adding some ‘pizzazz’ to their loved ones’ lives.”
• Respite Care Program. The culture of compassion and collaboration moves to another level through this program, which provides short-term assistance to families with fulltime caregiving responsibilities. In it older adults with advanced memory loss or other chronic health conditions can stay at Waveny for up to one month, sometimes longer. This program requires advance reservations.
Waveny residents "band together" in a musical ensemble.
• Hospice Services. Waveny describes this program for the terminally ill as aiming to “provide compassionate care in a dignified and tranquil setting that is not only sensitive to the patient’s needs, but to his or her family.”
• Drs. Charlotte & David Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic. Established in 1998, the Clinic operates an outpatient program in which a multidisciplinary team reviews the cognitive, psychological, social, medical and caregiver status of an older adult when concerns have arisen about his or her ability to manage independently. The evaluation, or assessment, Waveny says, aims to “identify the issues at hand” and help “patients, families and caregivers use the information gained to make the most informed decisions about the appropriate use of community services and residential options.” Heather Neff and Kristin Sinatra see such evaluations as an increasingly important part of the senior care landscape. Sinatra says that the evaluations provide a “baseline” of information about the senior’s status. “They are,” she notes, “sort of like what an oldest child with a professional background might conclude for his or her parents.”
• Geriatric Care Management. This program augments and follows up on the work of the Geriatric Evaluation Clinic. If the observations of the Clinic team have resulted in an individualized care plan, a professional care management team can help carry out and monitor the plan with 24-hour coverage, at-home consultation and swift access to Waveny’s experts and resources.
• Rehabilitation Services. Waveny offers both inpatient and outpatient short-term care to those from many age groups who are recovering from an injury, illness or other medical condition that requires rehabilitative therapy, exercise and massage. Neff and Sinatra express great pride at the fact that Waveny is the first rehabilitation facility in Connecticut to utilize innovative Bioness® technologies in its therapies. The Village, Waveny Care Network’s second residential complex, is an assisted living facility dedicated to caring for people with memory impairment.
U.S. Marines conduct a ceremony at Waveny honoring the nation's veterans.
The beauty of ballet comes to Waveny.
The Village, adjacent to Waveny Care Center, offers: 53 apartments, each with picturesque views; several well-appointed common and dining areas; country kitchens and laundry areas; three flourishing courtyard gardens; and the Main Street of a quaint New England town similar to the setting that many of The Village’s residents grew up in! Of course, Main Street is not an actual Main Street, but this extraordinary and award-winning structure is a replica of one and contains many of the features characteristic of such a locale.
Kristin Sinatra almost glows with delight as she strolls with visitors along Main Street’s cobble-stoned carpet, under its 175-foot skylight, before its clapboard and brick storefronts, and calls attention to the beauty/barber shop with its old-fashioned barber pole, the general store, the ice cream parlor, the café tables and benches, the boldfaced clock tower, and many other appealing aspects of the structure, which was specially designed to enhance the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and related conditions. Waveny feels that this “secure and comforting setting” helps immeasurably in striking “the right balance between familiarity, structure and autonomy.”
Waveny also claims that The Village’s “highly innovative sensory-and-memory-stimulating benefits provide one of the most advanced therapeutic environments in the world and is staffed with highly qualified, caring professionals.” These professionals include nurses, certified nursing assistants, a consulting geriatric psychiatrist and other experts. A custom care plan is designed for each resident, and all residents, based on assessed needs, receive personal care and healthcare monitoring 24/7. Additionally,
The Village, based on assessed abilities and expressed interests, seeks to integrate its activities with those of the Care Center’s Adult Day Program, with the aim of giving residents “ the opportunity to experience success.” The Village also offers short-term respite stay opportunities as a way to sample assisted living or as a break for caregivers.
Like the Care Center, The Village provides an extensive and varied array of activities—therapeutic, recreational, educational, spiritual, cultural--for its residents, along with exciting and fun entertainments and field trips. Kristin Sinatra points out that activities in Main Street have spanned everything from Catholic Masses to a modified football game put on by the New Canaan High School team. In referring to these activities, Heather Neff and Sinatra are quick to emphasize the debt of gratitude that Waveny owes to the more than 500 volunteers from the community who help to make the Waveny Care Network the success that it is.
Neff says that “community” is one of Waveny’s core values. “We strive for community: to augment the care we provide with the support of trained volunteers, local organizations and foundations, and the community at large.” She told Management Today: “Fortunately, community support allows us to continue to be one of the premier long-term providers in the state. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors and the community.”
The New Canaan High School football team plays a game on Main St. of The Village before a crowd of residents, patients and visitors.
New Canaan Inn. The third of Waveny’s residential complexes, and the only one located off the Main Campus on Farm Road, is the New Canaan Inn. The Inn is an independent living facility nestled in the serene and tranquil Oenoke Ridge neighborhood only half a mile from the center of New Canaan.The Inn’s convenient location and its 41 charming apartments, surrounded by beautiful trees, gardens, patios, waterfall and courtyards, offer, Waveny says, “a thriving, yet intimate retirement community.” Kristin Sinatra reports that some describe the Inn as like a “destination B&B.”
The Inn’s apartments offer privacy, but the common areas—living room with fireplace and grand piano, well-stocked library, elegant dining room serving fine cuisine—are gracious and inviting. Fresh flowers and plants and original art are sprinkled throughout the Inn, adding to its appealing ambiance.
Youngsters bring the excitement of Irish step-dancing to Waveny.
Like the other Waveny components, the New Canaan Inn offers residents a choice of numerous activities involving health and wellness, education and culture, spirituality, the arts and entertainment. Field trips to many points of interest are frequent, and community service projects are available. Neff and Sinatra report that community support for the Inn is as strong as it is for the other Waveny components. For example, the Friends of the Inn is a loyal group of volunteers, numbering more than 100, who brighten the lives of the Inn’s residents in many ways.
The Inn welcomes applicants from everywhere; its monthly rental fees are modest; and its mission, Waveny says, “is to provide you with a caring and supportive environment that helps you maintain your independence and enjoy a carefree lifestyle.” Furthermore, every resident at the Inn has priority access to Waveny Care Network’s continuum of services, programs and facilities.
As she completes guiding visitors through the Waveny Care Network’s components, Heather Neff often mentions that she wants to extend Waveny’s spirit of collaboration by outreach to other caring institutions so as to come up with common solutions to issues that affect the whole industry, such as increasing government regulation and mandates. She told Management Today: “I would like to see us collaborate on a greater scale with facilities similar to ours. Sometimes in healthcare, people are too focused on the competition; the walls go up and you’re not able to achieve those greater goals.” Awareness by Neff, Sinatra and those associated with them of the importance of outreach suggests that “Waveny world” certainly is well-positioned to achieve those “greater goals.”