By Laurence Gumina
“I waited too long to move.”
“Thank you for being there.”
“I didn’t know the full breadth of the ministry that Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services offers.”
These are statements we frequently hear from residents, clients, business partners and members of the greater community. Perceptions about long-term care and older adult housing and services can prevent people from engaging early with organizations like ours. Yet when they do, they are amazed at all we have to offer.
A business colleague once said, “In order for an organization to elevate, they need to innovate.” The emphasis on innovation struck a chord. At Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services (OPRS), we work every day to redefine how we deliver service. Our ministry for older adults began over 92 years ago. We now serve over 80,000 people in 41 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and our ministry has matured into a full range of service options. These options not only meet the needs of those we serve, but redefine what retirement living is all about.
From our humble beginnings, like many of our esteemed competitors, retirement living was defined as moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and “leaving your world behind.” Although we offered everything from independent living to skilled nursing care, it was defined only within the walls of a physical campus. It was as if we expected residents to remove themselves from the greater community. As a result, residents only came to live with us when it was absolutely necessary, usually due to health concerns. They sold their home, disconnected from their friends and community and moved to one of our senior living communities.
Today we are reaching out to those we serve beyond physical boundaries. We provide services to hospitalized patients who don’t know where to turn when they need additional care to return home; we provide short term rehabilitation services to people recovering from illnesses, injuries or surgeries who need help transitioning back home; we provide home and community services to clients who need a little extra help to remain independent at home; and we partner with hospitals, health care providers, insurance companies and members of our local communities to ensure coordination of care at all levels of support. We are no longer waiting for residents to come to us. Instead, we are starting to build relationships early and reach out to people in the place they call home, wherever that may be.
Meanwhile, we still provide retirement communities, but do so in a way that enriches physical, mental and spiritual well-being. We have redefined what constitutes a CCRC, and provide modern accommodations and amenities. For example, our community dining rooms could rival any local restaurant with the talents of our exceptional executive chefs and culinary services teams.
As a faith-based ministry with over 3,100 team members, we are proud to serve and advocate for older adults. We hope that worn-out notions of retirement living are a thing of the past. We want to be with people as they LIVE through their retirement and provide care to them on their terms, when and how they want it. Our strong faith, values and commitment to service are strengthened by our drive to innovate and redefine living through retirement.
LAURENCE GUMINA is president and CEO of Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services and serves on the PAHSA board of directors.