The following letter to the editor written by Debbie Benefield is a checked but impassioned plea to tread carefully when considering any major alteration to Lakeland Village Nursing Home.
Calling Lakeland Village a nursing home is an affront/insult actually as the facility is more of a thriving community of sometimes challenged elderly folks who enjoy getting out of bed most of the time to mingle with their peers and do productive things for themselves and the community at large.
I know Debbie did not have time or space in her letter to mention the College in Residence Volunteer program. The CIRV program offers college students campus housing in return for, I think, 20 hours of volunteer work per week. The student’s primary functions are to stimulate social mingling with residents and educate other CIRV students about people who are mentally challenged or have never developed socially.
David Carlson, an advocate for the legal rights of the infirmed elderly I believe, has written about some of the issues and concerns at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services like Lakeland Village.
And, Yes Debbie Lakeland Care is admirable as many in Spokane will attest too!
I used to work at Lakeland Village. I wrote(edited) its newsletter. I have published stories of the clients’ involvement with the community as well as each other. I believe Mary Beth Thompson (Dec. 11) has got this right. The clients have different needs than the public may be used to providing.
One of them is having like-friends who understand them; people they are used to seeing for most of their lives. It is home to them. It is “their town,” as it were. The staff (most of them) has been there for many years and adjusted to the times as best as they can without further funding(state funded institution) to meet regulations that increase while funds to provide staff decrease. Of course, that is going to make Lakeland appear to be failing.
Lakeland staff love their clients as family, and clients trust and love their staff because they take good care of them. So one might think that tossing them into the community is freeing them from some unjust institutionalization(somewhat akin to institutionalized prisoners who might struggle in real world). But this cuts them off from their friends, their family. They become isolated and depressed. People, go observe this little town of Lakeland Village from a different standpoint: that of the clients.