Compassionately bringing a new continuum of care for elders

July 14, 2015

HOUSTON — Focusing on finding new ways to improve the level of care provided to seniors has been a mission of St. Dominic Village in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for 40 years.

With the ultimate goal to “care for elders with the compassion of Christ,” St. Dominic Village, which is one of 60 ministries in the Archdiocese supported by the 2015 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), remains the only Catholic retirement community in the greater Houston area that offers a true continuum of care for the aging population. 

This care includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care for long-term and short-term rehabilitation residents. While there is a long list of senior communities to choose from, many only offer one or two of these levels of care and do not offer the spiritual enrichment programs and Sacraments offered through St. Dominic Village and the Warren Chapel on campus.

According to Amy Shields, chief executive officer of St. Dominic Village, the ministry strives to be the leader in Houston for services provided to this population in the community. She said the ministry constantly makes changes to its campus and services to meet the changing needs of these seniors. She believes the strong support of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and involved members of its board of directors make this possible.

“It is so unique to find a campus such as ours that is nestled in the Houston Medical Center on 27 acres of lush landscaping that provides the full continuum of care,” Shields said. “Our spiritual services also make us a special and unique environment in which to age gracefully.”

Spiritual director at St. Dominic Village, Patricia Egerman, said, “St. Dominic Village exists to care for God’s children who, for reasons related to aging, are seeking a place to live where God’s presence can be felt day in and day out. Our continuum of care means they can arrive as active seniors and remain until God calls them home whether that’s one year or 20 years. Jesus taught and exemplified caring for others without counting the cost.”

Egerman said the ministry’s mission includes nurturing the residents by offering Mass and the Sacraments with resident Chapel volunteers. These are an integral part of the ministry’s Eucharistic celebrations. There is daily Mass in the Warren Chapel as well as seasonal spiritual activities due to the retired priests living on the campus.

“We also have a continuous flow of prayerful and spiritual activities for our residents, some of which are led by priests in residence at St. Dominic Village,” Egerman said. “Our mission to provide compassionate care could not be as effectively implemented without our amazing volunteers. Everything our volunteers do can be summed up by understanding they are the hands and feet and heart of Christ to our residents.”
Shields said St. Dominic Village recently implemented a “matter of balance” program for its independent living and assisted living residents to provide a safer environment and teach new skills to residents so they remain independent longer. This is being done in collaboration with the Center for Healthy Aging and developed by Boston University.

In addition, the Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has been chosen for a music and memory pilot program created by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. The staff and volunteers are currently undergoing training so the program may be offered to residents. Also, respite care, which is a short-term stay typically less than 30 days, is now offered at all levels of care, including the Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.