Thanks For Asking: A Grateful Resident Shares His Thoughts

By JKV resident, Dave Bayer

My wife, Jackie, and I moved to John Knox Village (JKV) in Pompano Beach, FL some four years ago.

JKV is a relatively large Continuing Care Life-Plan Community with approximately 900 total residents, including 60 in assisted living and almost 200 in skilled nursing.

Previously, we both lived in the local area for over 40 years and are often asked by our friends in town about how things are going at JKV. Before the pandemic, an answer something like, “It has been a good move for us,” would suffice.

Since the pandemic, with all the negative news about the deleterious effects of COVID-19 on retirement communities in general, and skilled nursing facilities (aka nursing homes) in particular, the question now comes with a tinge of concern.

That’s understandable, with the grim COVID-19 related death toll in the United States approaching 450,000 (as of press time) and, according to reliable sources, around 40 percent of those deaths have occurred in a long-term care setting. Also, the negative effects of lockdowns and social isolation on the mental health of the elderly and their relatives are well known. Yikes.

Fortunately for us, in all three phases of living at JKV (i.e., Independent Living, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing), the experience has been vastly better than those portrayed in the national news.

Every person who enters our campus is appropriately screened (including taking temperatures). In Independent Living, where we live, we are expected to wear masks and observe physical distancing when outside of our residences. We are encouraged to travel only when necessary. Following out-of-state or international travel, KN95 masks are required for 14 days.

Our dining rooms are closed, but we are provided with nicely prepared meals delivered directly to our residences (at no charge). Our menu changes weekly and presents an excellent variety of healthy choices. We are permitted visitors on campus, but they must wear a mask (KN95 if visiting from another state), observe physical distancing, and confine the visit to within the host’s residence. In short, there are restrictions, but they are by no means onerous.

Instituting Necessary Precautions

The limitations for our residents (aka Elders) in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing are naturally more restrictive, but some visitation by “essential and compassionate visitors” is currently permitted.

Visitors are encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 beforehand. They must be scheduled in advance with only two visitors per visit. All participants must wear full PPE. Some general visitors are allowed depending on local COVID-19 rates at the time, and they must use KN95 masks and observe physical distancing.

Shortly before we moved in, JKV became part of a national movement to change the face of skilled nursing care when they opened The Woodlands. An entirely new facility, it is a trademarked GREEN HOUSE ® Project model of care with 12 homes in the building. Each home has 12 private rooms with private baths. These resident-centered homes are designed and operated specifically to counter the institutional feeling of boredom and isolation.

With a few modifications, some great innovations by our JKV Life Enrichment Team and superb work from the JKV management and staff, the potentially damaging mental effects of COVID-19 among our nursing home Elders have been greatly reduced.

These days, the old adage that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” comes to mind often, especially in the case of our skilled nursing Elders at JKV. On Dec. 16, 2020, JKV’s The Woodlands and Seaside Cove skilled nursing Elders were the first in Broward County and the state to receive the vaccine. On that day, 90 of our Elders and 80 staff members received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. JKV’s track record played a large part in us being chosen by the Florida Governor as the pilot site for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.

In my opinion, the residents of our Village have been blessed with management and staff who work hard, are transparent, do their homework and make compassionate, intelligent decisions. As a result, they have kept the residents safe and provided reasonable opportunities for social interaction.

JKV Was Our Choice

When friends ask about a good retirement situation in which to “age in place,” we suggest that they consider a not-for-profit Continuing Care Life-Plan Community that provides independent living, assisted living, provisions for memory care and a skilled nursing facility. Of course, we strongly encourage them to do their due diligence. Each community is different, and often what you get can be far different than what you expected and less than what you are paying for.

As for us, based on our experience at JKV, it is difficult to comprehend the reports about the number of COVID-19 related deaths and the terrible effects from lack of human interaction in retirement communities throughout our country.

That is definitely not the case at JKV. We can’t imagine a better place to be anywhere, other than right where we are.

Dave Bayer and his wife Jackie have been residents of John Knox Village since 2017. Prior to that, they both had lived in Ft. Lauderdale since the mid-1970s. They have been involved in a variety of volunteer activities in the local community and at JKV. Dave is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the National Continuing Care Residents Association and the Florida Life Care Residents Association.

To learn more about John Knox Village and the opportunities we provide for a safe, enriching lifestyle, click here or call 954-783-4040 for a private, personalized appointment (in person or virtual).