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Home opens its doors Rooms available at Lockport Presbyterian Home, fun and friends included

LOCKPORT -- The clientele at the Lockport Presbyterian Home is almost exclusively female.

Out of the 43 residents, only four are men, and two of those are married.

"If [men] don't come here," said Mary Scinta-Johnson, 88, "it's their loss."

The 52-unit home in two former mansions on High Street -- which opened a $6.2 million renovation last year -- is looking for a few more good men, and women.

Counting its suites, some suitable for couples, the home can accommodate 60 people.

The current count is 43.

Administrator Angela Hahn said the fact the facility isn't full is a reflection of a trend in the adult care sector.

"People are waiting longer to come in," Hahn said, "they're not as healthy, and they don't stay as long."

The home will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. today to try to attract more residents.

Despite its name, the Presbyterian Home is open to members of all faiths.

"We have mostly Catholics right now," Hahn said.

It's not a nursing home, but an adult home for elderly people who can take care of themselves to a certain extent.

That means women like Lee Capp, who recently celebrated her 91st birthday.

"I love it," she said of the Presbyterian Home.

What does she like best?

"They take me shopping," Capp said. And indeed, Hahn had recently driven her to local stores for some retail therapy.

Another resident is Jean Brown, whose name might ring a bell with local television viewers.

Brown, 91, who appeared as the "senior reporter" on WKBW Channel 7's noon news from 1988 to 1996, has been living at the Presbyterian Home for a year and a half.

"I'm very content," she said. "I was in the Presbyterian Apartments in Williamsville, and I was there 25 years. So when it was time for me to get some assisted living, I knew about this place, and I came here, and I think I made a good choice . . .

"I think we have good meals, and you just wander up and sit down. You don't have to think. And we have our own rooms, our own bath. The aides are very nice, and we have quite a lot of activities planned. We're great bingo players. This morning we had a devotional service, very nice, and then we had a coffee hour. And then we do exercises, chair exercises. You wiggle your joints."

>Home not assisted

Capp said she enjoys the crafts.

"There's always something social going on," she said.

Capp also has been taken to the Dale Association to take part in a sewing group, many of whose members attended her birthday party.

Brown said, "I don't get out much because I don't walk that well, but we do have a certain number of expeditions. Different churches in the area have been nice about inviting us out for lunch, things like that."

Activities Director Toni Parada said the expansion has brought about a major increase in the participants involved in recreational offerings.

"We used to have four people play bingo, and now we have 25," Parada said. "And these types of parties go on all the time. We have family members come in with cakes for everybody."

Hahn linked the increased involvement to the interactive environment of the home.

"They want activities where they can really do a lot more and feel more," she said. "We have residents that help out in the kitchen. I cook with them and bake with them. I instituted administrator's breakfasts with them last year, once a month. Everybody decided we had to have pancakes from scratch all the way through."

Besides new and improved rooms, the construction project also led to other new amenities, including Stash and Stella's, a retro-look beauty parlor that goes for a 1950s vibe.

Denise Milby, another resident of the home, was in the beauty chair recently with stylist Char Marciniak.

"I like the idea I don't have to find my way out of here to get all these things done," said Milby, 87, who has been a resident of the home for seven months. Before moving in, she lived in Newfane for 46 years.

"I really can't find anything to complain about. It's not my own home, but I couldn't take care of [that] anyway," Milby said. "They do everything for you. Everybody's very nice, and they have a sense of humor.

"When I was here for just a couple of weeks, the head nurse was walking toward me, and she said, 'Oh oh, here comes trouble.' I went along with it and I said, 'How did you know that?' and she said, 'I knew that the first 20 minutes you were here.' "

Scinta-Johnson, a widow who has one of the two-room suites, moved into the Presbyterian Home about six weeks ago from the Carlisle Gardens subdivision in Lockport.

"I had come here as a guest and liked it very much, so I decided if I had to leave my home, this would be the next best, and it has been delightful," she said. "I was living at home and it got to be very lonely. I have three daughters and they all live out of state . . . I am a people person, and I was alone too much, so I decided that this was the ideal place for me."

>Growing programs

Her suite is furnished completely with furniture she brought from her home. "I feel more comfortable here, and it was like I never moved at all," she said. "You don't feel like you're in an institution. It's just like coming to a second home, actually. I've met a couple of friends who I grew up with, so that even makes it nicer."

One of the four men at the Presbyterian Home is Walter Allen, who was the home's gardener for 20 years and now is a resident, taking special interest in the newly installed Memory and Honor Garden.

"He kind of watches us," Hahn said, "and gives us hints about what we should be doing."

Hahn, who has been with Presbyterian Senior Care of Western New York for 21 years and has been an administrator in Lockport for five years, is retiring in mid-August.

"My husband's been retired 2 1/2 years, and we thought we would take some time to travel," Hahn said. "You can't do that when you're an administrator. It's too time-consuming."

Besides the expansion last year, Hahn said her biggest accomplishment was establishing the respite program. It's temporary lodging at the facility to give caregivers a break, such as an opportunity to take a trip or simply rest.

"You can only do it if you have a license from the state," Hahn said. The Presbyterian Home's license came through last December.

"We have had about one person every month. This month we had two, so it's been growing," Hahn said.

The Presbyterian Home is one of five adult homes in Niagara County. A couple of them are part of assisted living facilities, such as Briarwood Manor in Lockport and Sterling House in Wheatfield. The Heritage Manors of Lockport and Ransomville also have adult home components, Hahn said.

When a resident requires care more advanced than the Presbyterian Home can offer, they must be transferred elsewhere.

In order to qualify for an adult home, residents have to be able to walk, get up out of a chair or a bed by themselves and be able to get to and from the bathroom by themselves, Hahn said.

Despite the openings, the Presbyterian Home probably won't be able to take patients evicted from Mount View Health Facility when the county-owned nursing home closes.

"There might be a couple who can qualify here, but it's questionable," Hahn said.

The Presbyterian Home's management has thought about adding adult day care in the future for seniors who are dropped off for a few hours and then go home. That's another program Mount View offers that will go out of existence when it shuts down by June 30.

"We already have the activities program," Hahn said, "so it would be an easy fit, and it's pretty easy to accomplish."


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