Elder care advocate leads by example

Rachel Shields has worn many hats in her 90 years: She’s been the director of Asbury Day Care Center (later Frankton), foster parent and missionary. She was appointed ombudsman in 1993 by Meredith Cole, Oregon’s long term care ombudsman, and named a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging in Washington, D.C., by Gov. John Kitzhaber. She also leads weekly Bible studies at Providence Down Manor.

And for the past three years, she’s been on the Hood River Care Center’s Family Council.

Family Council, which has nonprofit status, was formed in March 2009 by the families of some Hood River Care Center residents who felt “such an organization could enhance the quality care being given by acting as a liaison between the caregivers and the residents’ families or interested parties,” according to a June 2009 Hood River News article by Esther Smith.

On the third Monday of each month — or the second Monday in November and December due to holidays — the group meets in the Doc Eddy room at the Care Center at 5:30 p.m. They plan birthdays, holidays and fundraisers, actively seek donations and coordinate clothing exchanges as well as help residents and their families and the Care Center staff.

One goal is to make the Care Center feel like home, according to Shields.

“We forget about our elderly; many times they’re put in an institution and forgotten, and we don’t want that for the Hood River Care Center,” she said. “For many people, this is their home. It’s a privilege to help people who really need it.”

For Shields, the best part of Family Council is the people.

“I think just meeting with others and planning is a real reward. Then I try to visit the rooms, have the conversations, see where they are, what they feel, if they don’t like certain foods, if they don’t like this or that, then we can carry those things to the administration.”

Shields said that Family Council has been a very positive experience. The members are small in number but dedicated to making the Care Center a better place.

As for her many years of service, Shields is modest. “You have an ombudsman’s heart, that’s what happens,” she said. “I’m 90 years old now. It was children years ago, but as I grow older I’ve seen the needs of the elderly.

“I’ve had a very good life as far as that’s concerned. I really can’t complain.”


Family Council mission:

n To improve quality of care and ensure dignity and quality of life for Hood River Care Center residents;

n To provide an official organization through which family members of residents and interested parties may voice interests and concerns;

n Respect rights and privacy of Hood River Care Center residents;

n Support quality care givers.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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