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Q&A with Rich DeLong
Rich DeLong is the executive director at The Suites at Station Exchange.

Q: How long have The Suites at Station Exchange been open?
A: Our doors opened in June 2014. The first resident came in May of 2014. It’s a senior living and assisted personal care home. We have 24 residents, but can have up to 38.

Q: Tell me one unique aspect of life at The Suites at Station Exchange.
A: We call it the ‘Boutique of Senior Living.’ We’re going to give you a lot of attention to detail. When you walk in you can’t help but say, wow this is so pretty, so nice.”  We put live flowers on the table. Everyday on the table we’ve had live flowers or an arrangement. We are trying to do things that comforts and joys you see in your home. We are very service oriented. The hallmark of any community is the service. We are not only meeting their needs, but meeting their desires, giving them a sense of purpose.

Q: Why is it called The Suites at Station Exchange?
A: We’re located at 3205 TSX Grand Central, right across the street from J.F. Gregory Park. Everything is railroad themed.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge of running a senior living and assisted personal care home, and how do you address that challenge?
A: A lot of people don’t want to go to a senior living community. It’s not an easy decision. I think the first reason people don’t want to go is because they get set in their ways. No one wants to change or leave their house, but it’s often too much house for one person to care for. When we opened up this place we asked ourselves, how do we want to make this more like home? We have flexible dining schedule throughout the day. They can get up late or early. If you’re at home, you can mull around the house. Here people can come down in their robes. We want it to feel like home, though eventually they need to get dressed. We want to meet people where they are. You send me your mom’s schedule so I can start preparing my staff. Let us see what her likes and dislikes are. She shouldn’t have to change her schedule at age 90. It’s assistance with their needs but also with their desires. The concept was to try to give the community more of a residential feeling, more than an institutional feeling. It really feels like someone’s home, someone’s big home.

Q: What are some of the activities available?
A: Carrie Ondriezek is our Healthy Active Lifestyles Director. It’s not just bingo anymore, but I will tell you they love the BINGO, but it’s a whole lot more than that. She includes the creative arts, painting, and wreath making. We try to have a good balance of the four areas: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. We try to have something each day in each area. Sometimes we will sing hymns, other times we’ll sing old standards they can relate to. We have an activity during the day, like exercise with music, or seated beach ball volleyball. They are having fun, but also working on coordination and action time. We also do gardening. We are anxious to get the warm weather back to plant some tomatoes and different types of garden vegetables we can cook and serve ourselves.   

Q: You’re mom lives at The Suites at Station Exchange. Can you tell me a bit about her?
A: It is kind of fun to see your mom everyday. My mom is my best friend. [Still,] I’m not one that could have their mom living with them at home. I think that’s how I got into this; both of my grandmothers lived with us for a while. I carried that throughout my life. You use those kinds of good positive experiences to help us build a better place to help us build what feels like home for our folks. Caretaking is tough. We work hard to develop a culture of service, love and care. You have to work at it everyday. It’s an ebb and flow.

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