Family and resident connections

Carol McCall was sitting in Homeland Center’s Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion helping the Board of Managers prepare fresh flower arrangements when two residents walked up.

The next thing Carol knew, one resident was talking about his time in the Air Force, and the other was talking about his Navy service.

“I enjoy talking to the residents and hearing what they have to share,” Carol says. “That’s what I like about the way Homeland gets to know the residents and hears their stories because it is important to listen to everyone.’’

The Board of Managers is Homeland’s unique, all-female board responsible for maintaining Homeland’s renowned homelike feel. Although Carol is relatively new to the board, she has deep ties to Homeland through family and church.

Carol became acquainted with Homeland in 1998, when she and her sister were scrambling to find a nursing home capable of providing skilled care for their mother and personal care for their father. Homeland “just seemed to be the right place.” Their decision was confirmed when their trusted family physician said, “You girls did the right thing.”

“He could see the level of care his patients were receiving,” Carol says.

After they came to Homeland, Carol’s mother lived for one year, and her father “flourished for two years.”

“He was so happy with his suite,” she says. “He had everything he needed right there. And he just loved the food. He was constantly praising it. He even called one of his buddies who lived in a facility on the West Shore and said, ‘Eddie, you ought to move here. The food is so good.’”

Carol’s dad made good friends and was under the care of a nurse knowledgeable about his medications. He was an electronics whiz who built the family’s first television and repaired radios and radar on Army helicopters at New Cumberland Army Depot. He participated in history discussion groups. When poetry activities were coming up, Carol – who kept a poetry file from her college days – would get a call.

“Carol, I need a poem for Veterans Day,” he would say. Or, “I need a poem for this weather.”

“We were very thankful for the care and the quality of the people that were at Homeland,” Carol says now. “Some of them are still here.”

Carol’s dad also enjoyed excursions around town, and now, Carol has come full circle. As a Board of Managers volunteer, she sometimes joined residents on their outings (pre-pandemic) for lunch or shopping. On a holiday trip to a shopping mall, Santa Claus waved at the group, and everyone marveled at the decorations.

“The men weren’t there to shop very much,” she says. “They went to the optometrist to get their glasses adjusted.”

Carol lives in South Hanover Township, outside of Hershey. She grew up in Harrisburg’s Colonial Park area and spent her career happily teaching first and third graders in Central Dauphin School District, where she had attended school. She still hears from former students. One grew up to be an award-winning teacher at Dauphin County Technical School.

Several of Carol’s church friends had served on the Homeland Board of Managers, and Carol would often visit church friends who were residents. She once turned down an invitation to serve on the Board of Managers because the time was not right, but when the opportunity came again in fall 2019, she accepted.

She enjoys flower arranging, which during normal times perks up the dining room tables and now, with the pandemic limitations, individual arrangements brighten up residents’ rooms. In retrospect, she is pleased that residents were able to enjoy the Board of Managers’ winter party just before protections against COVID-19 put an end to large gatherings and outside visitors. That “Homeland Sock Hop” featured staff wearing poodle skirts, specially made cookies, and an Elvis impersonator making the ladies swoon.

“The idea of going to the party, gathering, and getting ready is something the residents look forward to,” Carol says.

Carol and her husband, George McCall, enjoyed attending concerts at Mt. Gretna. They also travel when they can, sometimes taking short boat trips along coastal sites.Carol appreciates Homeland’s unwavering commitment to excellence. In regular times, that meant training staff to sustain high levels of care. During the pandemic, she says the staff has

“I see Homeland as such a positive place,” she says. “It’s a nice, clean, happy, well-run home.”

 
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