Robert Frost, a famous American poet, wrote, “Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” This is an excerpt from one of his most well-known poems, The Road Not Taken. It intends that in making this choice, one is trying to distinguish oneself from the rest of the world by taking the less traveled road, or the less popular decision. This indicates a person who is ready to take a chance, and to face a challenge. This is directly related to the foundation of The Davis Community, where I volunteered at this semester. In 1963, Champion McDowell Davis was a retired railroad executive. He began with a vision to create a positive living environment for aging men and women. This vision inspired him to transform his family’s former peanut plantation into, what is today a 50-acre not-for-profit community, where seniors choose to live (Davis, 2014). The Health Care Center, at The Davis Community, welcomed its first residents in 1966. In 2000, Champions Assisted Living was completed, which added another support service in the Davis Community. In 2010, the Rehabilitation and Wellness Pavilion was added, to provide seniors with a modern fitness center, outpatient therapies, and short-term inpatient care (Davis, 2014).
The part of the Davis Community I volunteered in was Champion’s Assisted Living. Its exact address is 1007 Porters Neck Rd, Wilmington, NC 28411. The Davis Community campus is located at Porters Neck, on a 50-acre campus (Davis, 2014). It is only a quarter of a mile from the Intracoastal Waterway. The campus is settled in a woodland location with luxury homes, yacht basins, and golf courses in close proximity. Nearby to the property is Plantation Village, an independent, not-for-profit residential community for seniors (Davis, 2014). The Davis Community is only 12 miles from Historic Downtown Wilmington, and the campus is within easy reach of the Wilmington International Airport and major roadways. Their phone number is 910-686-6462 (Davis, 2014). The person who was my supervisor was the activity director at Champions. Her name is Vicki Hardiman. My orientation was on January 24th, then I volunteered every Monday since January 27th. I skipped Monday, March 3rd because I was on spring break. Then my last day was on April 7th.
What I Did
During the orientation, I was welcomed in immediately. I was given a handbook and an application to fill out. There were other volunteers there for an orientation. At the end, we were given a tour of the building. On my first day I painted in the memory care unit, with the memory care patients. I helped a woman named Marilyn. The second day consisted of crafts and bingo, and, on my third day, there was a sing along group that came to perform, and then I helped with bingo. On the fourth day, I got to take control of my own activity because the staff was short-handed. I conducted a trivia game for half an hour, with the general population. The fifth day I volunteered consisted of craft time and bingo. On the sixth day, I attended craft time in memory care, and then I got to bake cookies. On the seventh day I volunteered, I got to watch a woman play the piano and sing, then I helped during bingo. The eighth day was really fun. I got to help Vicki do a trivia game, and then help with bingo. On my last day, I set up the recreation room for bingo, then helped get residents to the homeschooled children’s play on the second floor.
Champions Assisted Living is a not-for-profit organization. The agency’s distinction of nonprofit is that decisions are guided by principle not profit (Davis, 2014). The people who make the decisions for the Davis Community is the Board of Directors. Then rules, regulations, and information is given to the staff to go bye (Davis, 2014). My supervisor was the Activity Director, so she was over the activity department for the assisted living home. Vicki had two people working under her, but she never treated them as such. The staff at Champions Assisted Living work as a team.
There is a social worker who works at Champions Assisted Living. She has a Bachelor’s degree. Her job at Champions consists of conducting pre-residency assessments, and screening, of potential residents, and makes recommendations for appropriate level of residency. She is also responsible for evaluating the psychosocial, and activity of daily living needs of residents, and coordinating care and services as needed. She develops a care plan based on the resident’s needs, and works with an interdisciplinary team to communicate with residents and families before the plan of care is changed, or when there is a change in the resident’s condition. She provides individualized support to residents, and their families, through family meetings or support groups, and assists through the transition process to a higher level of care. Lastly, she monitors the needs of residents routinely.
Many clients are served by Champions Assisted Living. The minimum age, that a resident may be, is 55 years old (Davis, 2014). Both males and females are welcome, as well as, all ethnicities. As far as the needs of the clients is concerned, there are caregivers and nurses that are assigned to specific halls on each level of the building, and there are a lot of services for each individual resident. When it comes to doing research, the most Champions does is keep medical records, and do checkups on each patient that is there.
Champions provides a variety of services. When it comes to care services, Champions offers assisted living, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation and wellness, dementia care, respite care, and end of life care. Champions has a special care Alzheimer’s unit, and offers many amenities. A few of these are emergency call units in each bedroom and bathroom, clinic services open seven days a week, weekly housekeeping and daily tidying, restaurant-style dining, an in-house beauty salon/barber shop, a wide variety of activities, including weekly field trips to restaurants and museums, laundry services, pharmacy services, and psychological services (Davis, 2014).
There are governmental policies that influence how Champions assisted Living operates. One of them is the policy about the minimum age of residents. To be eligible to be a resident at Champions Assisted Living, one must be 55 years old or older. Another policy is a no smoking policy in private or public areas indoors (Davis, 2014). This was set in place because some of the residents have oxygen tanks they carry around with them. You are not supposed to have an open flame around one, under any circumstance.
Feelings over Experience
My feeling about the experience was that, mainly, it was fun. It was definitely a memorable experience. I learned a lot while I was there, about myself, and the population I want to work with in the future. The volunteering I did at Champions was enjoyable. I got to spend a lot of time with the residents. Volunteering there was definitely worth it. The agency is a great community for the older adults to live out the rest of their lives. It has a good atmosphere, and the staff were nice. I could tell the staff was qualified for their jobs.
I would be willing to continue to volunteer at Champions Assisted Living. Patrick White, author of Three Uneasy Pieces, summed up the public’s feelings about the older adult population in his own opinion.
I would like to believe in the myth that we grow wiser with age. Those of a middle generation, if charitable or sentimental, subscribe to the wisdom myth, while the callous see us as dispensable objects, like broken furniture or dead flowers. For the young, we scarcely exist unless we are unavoidable members of the same family, farting, slobbering, and perpetually mislaying teeth and bifocals. (White, 1988)
I am one of the few “young” who still view old age as wisdom. Every day that I volunteered, I learned something new from one of the residents. Sometimes it was as simple as experiencing a kindness I never had before. Other times, it was listening to their life stories. Older people have encountered some amazing incidents in their journey of life. When they shared their life stories, it gave me an insight about lifestyle in their time. The life stories I was told were very insightful to why things are the way they are in the present time. Also, it is very interesting to know about their adventures and the places they travelled to. I would be willing to provide services to any agency, not just an assisted living facility. I believe volunteering is very important, because you get to learn about new agencies, it looks good on a resume, and one can gain much needed experience from it.
Human Behavior in the Social Environment
In terms of human behavior in the social environment, I observed a lot of activities at the agency regarding client issues. I did not see much aggressive behavior. The old ladies were mean sometimes, though, during bingo. Most of the residents were really sweet, and non-confrontational. I didn’t observe any resistance to activities of daily living care. I also did not observe any depression. Sometimes when I was there, some of the residents would not want to partake in the activities, such as board games or trivia time. On these occasions, the staff had to be extra suggestive to get them excited about the activities. I noticed that everyone in memory care was forgetful in some way. For example, they needed assistance with walking to places or they would get side tracked very easily. Every resident at Champions Assisted Living needed assistance in some way.
Overall, I enjoyed volunteering at Champions Assisted Living. I would consider volunteering here again. I loved working with the staff, and visiting with the residents. I had fun watching all the old ladies play bingo, and I liked helping them. Champions is a nice facility. The Davis community, in total, is great. The campus is set in a nice location. It is close to the ocean, as well as, downtown Wilmington. I am glad I chose to do my service learning at Champions Assisted Living.
The Davis Community: Assisted Living in Wilmington NC. (2014). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.thedaviscommunity.org/
White, P. (1988). Three uneasy pieces. London: Jonathan Cape.