Concordia Life Care Adminstrator Jerod Buttram and Jacquelyn Rolen, RN, serves as director of Health Services, offer guidance to the staff to serve the needs of residents.

by James Coburn
Staff Writer

Jerod Buttram has learned great respect for the nursing staff at Concordia Life Care Community where he serves as the administrator.
“They have to multi-task every day,” Buttram said. “We don’t have a lot of extra staff so they wear many hats and not only meet the residents’ needs, but they do it in a very caring and compassionate way.”
All under one roof, Concordia Life Care Community is a faith based continuing care retirement community offering all levels of care through assisted living to memory support and skilled care, Buttram said.
Concordia was developed by 12 Lutheran churches during the 1950s. Today, Concordia is the only community under the auspices of Lutheran Senior Citizens, Inc. Concordia can generally serve about 200 seniors, he said.
Residents are able to age in place. When a resident qualifies to live at Concordia, they are committed to receive whatever contractual level they need through the continuum of care.
We work very hard for residents to age as long as they are safe in the lowest level of care and remain as long as they are safe and we can meet their needs,” he said.
Jacquelyn Rolen, RN, serves as director of Health Services. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing when living in Pennsylvania. She recalled the days when she was a nurse aide. Her mom was a charge nurse at a nursing home. Rolen would work there on weekends.
She then chose a path of ICU nursing for 27 years until she moved to Oklahoma where she began working in hospice and palliative care. She became very interested in working with elders. So she discovered Concordia.
“The residents are just wonderful,” Rolen said. “Each one has their own personality and you get to know them. When I came here, I said, ‘How am I going to know all of these people?’” But soon she became more familiar with the residents. She learned all about them.
“It’s really rewarding to help them at the end of their life,” Rolan said.
Concordia offers activities in each department. Outside vendors come to Concordia to provide music. Hospices are also welcome for birthday celebrations, Rolan said. An intergenerational memory care program is provided.
“One hospice was coming in and bringing younger people like their children,” she said. “They have games, card games. There’s Bingo and dominoes going on every night.”
Also, there is an arts and crafts program in tune to the needs of different residents. Assisted living may be more creative, she said, while in Memory services they reach their personal best, she said.
Residents bake cookies and take bus rides each Wednesday, weather permitting. They are taken to different places. Recently they went to Braum’s Dairy and came home with milk shakes. Their bus rides take them to Lake Hefner or downtown Oklahoma City at times, Buttram said.
“They have different spiritual services. They have gospel music and dog therapy. There’s a couple of different therapy dogs that come in,” Rolen said. “There’s one real cute one with long hair. And the residents love them”
Independent residents also do some performing for the assisted living or memory care residents. The skits and musical programs are especially appreciated during the holidays.
“Especially in memory, a lot of our residents will come over and help with activities and games,” Rolen said.
Rolen looks for the qualities of dependability and reliability in the nursing staff. Some residents need that constant care and it’s not good for the residents to experience staff changes frequently.
“And it’s not good for the rest of the staff who give the care,” she said. “They need compassion. They need to be here for more than the paycheck and be willing to give a lot of physical care to these patients depending where they are.”
There are a lot of rewards as a nurse at Concordia. But it is hard work, Rolen said. Assisted living can be more emotionally challenging when the residents sense they are losing their independence, Rolen said. So the staff needs to be flexible, she said.
“We try to get the staff that fits with our faith base and our type of community.”
Rolen feels good knowing she has made a difference in the residents’ lives.
“It feels good when the families come up and say ‘Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you,’” she said. “You want to do it.”