HANNIBAL – A year and a half ago, Tim Brooks joined Luther Manor Retirement and Nursing Home as administrator with one goal in mind — to help foster a family environment for residents, employees and visitors.
When Brooks joined the team, the facility received a one-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 18 months later, the score jumped to four stars, thanks to a series of family-centered changes like the Adopt-a-Resident program first suggested by CNA Linda Whittaker. Brooks received the Administrator of the Year for Missouri's northern region following a series of changes aimed at bringing everyone closer together.
"That's definitely our goal, to get a team environment," he said. "If our employees are caring for one another as well as caring for our residents, then we're going to come together. Honestly, we look at it as a family situation — we all have the same goal, and we're all together on that." Wilma St. Clair, president of the Board of Directors, commended Brooks for the work he's accomplished.
"We're proud of this guy — very proud," she said.
St. Clair presented Brooks with a card from the Board of Directors, and she remembered how everyone kept the secret about Brooks' award before the news became public.
"It's hard to keep a secret around here," she said, smiling. "I knew about it for two weeks, but I was sworn to secrecy."
The surprise began when Brooks received a phone call while accompanying his daughter for mermaid classes at the Hannibal Aquatic Center. When he arrived back at Luther Manor, he saw everyone gathered in the living room and dining room, applauding as he walked in. He learned he had received the Administrator of the Year award after Luther Manor's Activity Director Allison Barnard sent an essay to the Activity Director Association of Missouri (ADAM).
St. Clair said she noticed that residents and staff members are smiling throughout the day, and each resident has at least two volunteers who visit them regularly. Brooks said the Adopt-a-Resident program has spread to about 120 volunteers through word-of-mouth. Some residents can't easily make it out to other destinations, and others feel uncomfortable leaving the safe environment they're accustomed to. Brooks said that socialization is beneficial for everyone, and the Adopt a Resident program drew inspiration from the Adopt-a-Child program that provides gifts to children each Christmas.
"It started with that kind of an idea, and we said 'you know what, why can't we do that all year long,' and have residents be adopted by the community — not to buy them gifts, but to spend time," he said. "That's more valuable to our residents than the gifts are. They have their necessities here — they have all their needs met. What they don't have met is the socialization."
Brooks said the number of volunteers participating reflects the closeness between members of the community, showing "how Hannibal operates." Brooks said the visits between volunteers and residents is "mutually beneficial," and St. Clair agreed.
"I have learned so much from these people. It's valuable," she said.
Brooks said he looks forward to continuing to foster a family atmosphere moving forward, and he commended all the volunteers and dedicated staff members who share the goal of caring and making an impact on residents' lives.
"These are people who have a desire to do something good, and a desire to give of their time," he said. "It's really awesome that we can make that connection, and the folks in here can meet someone different that they wouldn't otherwise have run into. It's just a good thing all around."
"Yes it is," St. Clair said. "We've been blessed."