To the Editor:
We appreciate the thoughtful report on the recent White House Conference on Aging prepared by Hyde Park Older Women’s League (OWL) and Chicago Hyde Park Village (CHPV). Everyone associated with Montgomery Place shares their commitment to providing the finest services and programs for older adults in our community. We concur with the current discussion and think two public policy issues need further discussion.
The first: Demographics clearly show an exponentially increasing number of seniors will want or need support services. The vast majority will choose to stay in their own homes. Montgomery Place, like OWL and CHPV, recognizes this trend and is developing more programs that reach beyond our campus to older adults in their own homes.
Eight years ago to further extend our services to more seniors, Montgomery Place created a subsidiary, LifeCare@HOME, to provide home-based services for older adults in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will Counties. We now are in the process of reaching out to individuals who live in nearby high-rise apartment buildings so we can provide wellness services and assist them in organizing social and education programs. We also are testing a pilot project to offer modestly priced transportation to seniors.
Because many people are cared for by family members, Montgomery Place’s chaplain Rev. Dr. Julianne Buenting also helps those caregivers by offering regularly scheduled support group meetings on our campus.
As we serve a greater variety of older adults, we continue to believe one factor is paramount for our success — our caregivers. This leads to the second policy issue: Ensuring the fair treatment and compensation of hourly workers. The not-for-profit governing board of Montgomery Place already has taken measures that all our employees are fairly compensated, and treated with dignity and respect.
We strive to recognize the work and dedication of the hundreds of employees who work for Montgomery Place and LifeCare@HOME. To achieve our mission of providing quality, senior-centered care, we commit significant resources to ensure our caregivers are not only well-trained and supported by ongoing education and peer-group programs, but also generously compensated, well above industry standards and the requirements of the city of Chicago.
As part of this commitment, we pay our caregivers time-and-a-half on holidays to thank them for putting the lives of their clients first and include paid holidays in their compensation plan. We also offer them healthcare benefits and a 401k-retirement plan.
We acknowledge senior living industry practices are not always what they should be. Montgomery Place is committed to leading the way for best employment practices. We encourage families to choose employers who treat their employees well, invest in their training, and offer them generous compensation and benefits.
It is only this level of recognition and training for caregivers that makes it possible for Montgomery Place and LifeCare@HOME to respond quickly to an older adult in need.
We are grateful to our caregivers for their eagerness to continually improve their skills and knowledge and for their selfless dedication and genuine affection for the older adults whom they serve.
Susan M. Levy, President Board of Directors, Montgomery Place and LifeCare@HOME LLC
CEO/Executive Director; Montgomery Place and LifeCare@HOME LLC