I wanted to extend thanks from myself and my family for Family First’s care of our mother these last couple of months. We had high confidence in the skill and care provided by your staff from the office support, but more importantly the caregivers. You are very lucky you have such a dedicated, caring and thoughtful team.
In particular, I want to make a special call-out to Jeannette. I know she developed a special bond with mom while she was in her care. Jeannette was always there when I needed her, (even calling me on her days off to make sure messages were relayed to me).
Jeannette is over the top special person and truly part of our family for those few short months. She is a gem.
Thank you for your help and support."
- The Harris Family
A Time to Talk - TheNewsTribune.com
Dedicated Gig Harbor company, makes holidays special for residents
BY : MARY MAGEE
WHEN MY MOTHER was in a nursing home recovering from a hip fracture, I explored other living options for her, since I knew it was possible that she might not be able to return to her assisted-living apartment. One day I visited with an acquaintance, a male nurse who works in elder care, who mentioned how impressed he was with a business in Gig Harbor called Family First Adult Family Homes. Adult family homes are licensed by the state to have up to six residents. Caretakers are there around the clock and tend to all of the residents’ needs: they prepare and serve meals, help them with dressing and grooming, administer medications, and provide socialization and activities.I contacted Family First and met with Julie Thomson, one of the proprietors. We toured several homes, where I met staff members who were all professional and engaging. I learned that Julie’s husband, Chris Thomson, was a geriatric therapist who worked in nursing homes before he decided to open a business as the proprietor of homes for the elderly. Chris and Julie have been running the business for 10 years. They currently manage five homes. In October, mom moved to one of their homes. Since then, she has cheered up considerably, and her irrepressible sense of humor entertains the staff. Meals are served in a family room right off the kitchen. If she chooses, she can wheel herself into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and a goodie to enjoy while she reads the newspaper. That satisfies both her recently acquired sweet tooth and her continued interest in current events. There’s a spacious deck off the family room that she enjoys going out on when the weather is fair. In her bedroom, a window looks out at trees that line the property. When I visit, a black-and-gray tabby named Sassy likes to jump on my chair to get petted. Mom likes cats, too, and she had one of her own until a few years ago.
She’s amused by Sassy and her antics. Family First throws a Christmas party for the residents, their families, and staff members each December. On the day of the party, we drove to the house in Crescent Valley where mom stays and helped her get ready. It’s hard to venture out when you’re older, so she was a bit reluctant at first. When she bought into the plan, we headed to the Best Western Wesley Inn. In the lobby, there’s a dinghy attached to the wall, and it caught her attention because she loved boating, back in the day. We headed to the banquet room, where the festivities took place. Chris, Julie and staff members welcomed us warmly. The room was decorated for the holidays and filled with people of all ages, from the elderly to the very young. We found a table that would accommodate us and the other family members who arrived shortly. What a great afternoon we had: we visited, laughed, ate delicious food from the buffet, and listened to The Greg Glassman Trio play soft Christmas music. Behind the stage, which was decorated with big gift-wrapped boxes, a large screen displayed a slideshow of residents, staff members, and families. At the end of the party, we had our pictures taken with Santa Claus. It was delightful to watch mom chat with the white-bearded gentleman. I know every elderly person there had, at an earlier time in their life, made an effort to make Christmas special for their loved ones. How impressive that the Thomsons and their staff members care enough to make Christmas special for them.
I am writing to recommend that you consider choosing Family First for your loved one. My mom was accepted into one of their homes in October and was reluctant to make the move. When I did the pre-interview I said that my mom could be difficult at times; this was a slight understatement of her personality. She was welcomed with open arms and Chris and Julie made the transition as easy as possible. When she was chilly they got her heated blanket.
When she wanted cookies, they gave her a private stash in her room. When she was difficult, they loved her through the situation. The caregivers were excellent. Since we were near we were able to transport her to the doctor but it was a comfort to know that Chris was willing to do this if the need had arisen. As her health deteriorated and her needs increased, my mom was concerned that she would "get kicked out." It was a great reassurance to her and to her family that she could spend her last days in what she had come to recognize as her new home. She passed into the Lord's arms on Christmas morning and the staff made this as easy as possible for both her and for myself. I saw Chris when I arrived to get my mom's belongings and said to him "I have no more parents to put into your competent care but I have many friends to whom I can recommend your services." I believe that Family First is more than a business; it is also a ministry. My mom and her family were the beneficiaries of their loving care."
- Mary Ann Seiwerath
Family First Notebook Story:
For those of you who have seen the movie or read the book The Notebook, you know what a true love story is. If you were to visit our 59th street house on most any afternoon, you may be fortunate enough to witness a man talk about 70 plus years of loving memories he had with his beautiful bride.That’s right, Bill and Shirley were married 70 plus years! When Shirley’s Alzheimer’s progressed she came to live at Family First. It was the first time they were ever apart. Bill was ok with the idea once he realized his bride was being well cared for. He visited most every day. Bill and Shirley would cuddle on the couch and she was always so happy to see him. She could no longer use her words but she would smile big and hum a happy tune. The residents, caregivers and family visitors looked forward to listening to Bill share he (his) and Shirley’s love story. He spoke of the joys and challenges and told funny stories but most of all he talked about how much they loved each other. One day Bill’s visits stopped, his health had taken a turn for the worse. Shortly thereafter, Bill and Shirley’s son and daughter in law came to give Shirley the news, Bill would no longer be visiting, just looking down from heaven.Even with her disease we knew Shirley understood. It did not take long for Shirley to join her soul mate. Shirley couldn’t express her knowledge that Bill had passed, it was obvious that there was a deep awareness there, evident when she willfully decided to stop eating and drinking. It is our belief that she firmly chose to join Bill and she did so in a most natural and peaceful way, reaching always for someone that she so clearly saw. We feel so blessed to have known them both and hear their notebook story.
Thank you, Bill and Shirley. We miss you.
Dear Chris and Julie,
I have so much appreciated your help with my decisions regarding my mom as well as my sister. Moving them out to Gig Harbor has been such a blessing! Having them this much closer has reduced our collective stress level considerably. You helped me get them here and settled in an emergency situation and I will be eternally grateful.
My Letter of Recommendation:
Chris and Julie Thomson of Family First Adult Family Homes are a couple whose compassion is immediately obvious when you meet them. Combined with their
can-do spirit and problem-solving skills, they provide immeasurable reassurance, knowledge, and guidance to families looking into the adult family home setting.
Chris and Julie staff their homes with skilled health care providers who take care of their residents’ living needs while providing a family-like setting and feeling of warmth and security for their residents. My mother is very busy, and the caregivers include her in the tasks around the home that help my mother feel comfortable and relevant. They provide a myriad of activities for the residents to engage in should they choose, from cards to crafts, puzzles to games. When it was discovered that my mom liked to keep her hands busy, the Personnel Director, Angie, stopped on her way home on a Friday night and purchased several craft activities for my mom and the other residents to use. It was so touching! That kind of personalized attention is commonplace for the Family First family.
In addition, close bonds are formed with caregivers that provide much comfort to the residents and their families. I know that when Marsha is working, Mom will feel as if I have been with her all day! The caregivers become attuned to the needs and preferences of the residents and enjoy finding ways to enhance their experience. The owner, Chris Thomson, is go-to for resident health care. He has a 15-year knowledge and contact base from which to draw and is very involved in solving any health or home issues that may arise. Because Chris and Julie, and the entire staff for that matter, are so approachable and hands-on, it truly feels like they are partners in the care and nurturing of our loved ones.
I highly recommend the Thomsons and Family First as you consider a loved one’s living arrangements. They are kind, caring, knowledgeable and immediately responsive to questions and concerns, and are the other family member you wish you had to solve all the elder transitioning decisions. Better, they are guiding partners."
- Catherine Scanlan
People say that having dementia is a sad disease that robs people of the mind, memories, and normal life. What I found to be even harder than realizing my Mom had this disease, is that she could no longer live alone and take care of herself. I started with people coming to the home to take care of Mom, but I was not happy with the care she was getting. Then we found you and Family First. I hope you know that we will be forever grateful for Mom living in one of your Adult Family Homes. You both really care how the elderly are treated and taken care of. You get the best caregivers and staff and have high standards for them to follow. After my initial concern, if we were making the right move, we have never felt better about Mom being in the best place for her. Even when Mom was diagnosed with end-stage cancer, your home and hospice worked together, as a team, to do whatever needed to be done. Mom never had to leave the home, she was so happy in. Thank you, Chris and Julie, for everything for your home for your care, for your support."
- Maureen and Ralph
What a blessing you have all been to my Mom and Family. God put her into very patient caring hands for her last months. It was amazing to experience and everyone's professional and loving care was better than I could have asked for. Thank you all, the love in your hearts showed and we feel blessed having been a part of your Family. Thank you so much."
- Kendra Niesz, Daughter of Jeanette
We can’t begin to thank you enough for the wonderful care our mother, Olga has received over the past 2 ½ years. Your Family First staff is not only well trained in adult care but are fabulous human beings who work hard to keep their “elder family” feeling comfortable, secure and happy. Between our two parents, our family has experienced 5 different assisted nursing facilities in the Gig Harbor and Port Orchard areas. All of them were good but none of them came close to the quality of care that the Crescent Valley home provided for our Mom. We credit that difference to the two of you. Your combination of great professional knowledge, good business methods, and genuine caring style make your Family First homes above and beyond all others. We are so thankful that we met you and that you welcomed Olga into your home. You are truly good people who care about helping others. We often recommend your services to friends and will continue to do so for many years to come."