The cost of compassionate care for elders — priceless

May 24, 2016

HOUSTON — Continually rising healthcare costs that many seniors cannot afford with their resources are not standing in the way of one ministry that is focused on caring for elders with the compassion of Christ. St. Dominic Village, the only Catholic Continuum of Care Retirement Community of its kind in Houston, is stepping up to help these seniors when their finances run short. 

“The biggest change that is impacting our residents and our community is the continuous rise in the cost of health care,” said Amy Shields, chief executive officer of St. Dominic Village. “It is more and more expensive every day to need assistance. Many of our seniors are outliving their resources and their families cannot make up the difference for the cost of health care.”

St. Dominic Village is one of 60 ministries in the Archdiocese that receives funding from the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). This fund enables the ministry to support its mission and provide the level of assistance and financial aid each resident needs.

“As a nonprofit, our donors are so important to our livelihood,” Shields said. “Without our donors like DSF, it would be impossible to support our mission.”

St. Dominic Village’s mission is “Caring for Our Elders with the Compassion of Christ,” which Shields says is at the heart of everything the ministry does. She said the spiritual needs of the residents that call St. Dominic Village home are individually looked at and are assessed upon admission, then the team of staff and volunteers work together to ensure the highest quality of life for the residents.

“Each day, our staff and volunteers strive anew to do the sacred work of caring for all of God’s people who make their home here,” said Patricia Egerman, director of Spiritual Care and Volunteers. “Each day, we actively work together to further integrate our mission and our core values into every facet of care. Helping us is a permanent reminder of the sacredness of mercy in the Warren Chapel where the stained glass windows depict the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.”

Currently, out of the 318 residential units available, St. Dominic Village serves 291 residents among all levels of care, which number changes daily. The Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Assisted Living, Independent Living, Angel House, respite care and the Priest Residence are what make up the main continuum of care.

The DSF funding received by St. Dominic Village also is instrumental in supporting a number of services and programs on campus. 
One of the many programs offered is Music and Memory, where residents are given IPods loaded with music of their generation to use if they become upset or agitated. 

“It’s amazing to see what music can do for our residents,” said Shields. 

One resident, June Hughes, who has lived at St. Dominic Village in independent living since July of 2015, remains very active and social. She spends a lot of time gardening at St. Dominic Village and at the Centennial Gardens located off of Almeda, taking care of the rose garden. 

“It’s (St. Dominic Village) good socially because of the fact that you’re mixing with other people and you’re not isolated in your apartment,” Hughes said. “You meet a lot of people here and that is very important at this stage of life. My apartment is nice and light and airy, sunny in the morning, and also is very convenient for getting to my car.” 

In addition to DSF, the volunteers at St. Dominic Village also are what make a difference in providing this quality, compassionate care.