by Traci Chapman
Nursing has always been a way of life for Tina Singleton, her chance to bring healing and comfort to others.
With a heart for helping seniors, Singleton has always drawn on a personal experience more than two decades old, a painful memory that has spurred her to do everything she could for those in the twilight of their lives.
“What faces so many seniors is so awful – they want to stay in their home, but they might not be able to, assisted living can be so expensive and so impersonal, then there are nursing homes, something I will never forget,” Singleton said. “My grandmother went into the nursing home and in less than a year, she was gone – she just gave up.”
Singleton’s wish to give others the hope her grandmother lost was what spurred the Oklahoma LPN from the start; now, a new concept called Home Choice, aimed at bringing that comfort home could change Oklahoma’s home health care landscape.
“This is a completely different way of looking at things, a way to give more people an opportunity to have a real home, while they still get the best quality care,” Singleton said.
To get to Home Choice, Singleton had her own path to follow. After working for private care agencies, she in 2009 founded Right Choice Personal Assistance, a company offering traditional home health services to seniors and other home-bound patients. With more than 50 employees serving about 90 home health patients, caretakers assist individuals on a daily, weekly and as needed basis.
“The service is completely tailored to each individual need,” Singleton said.
Helping those who needed Right Choice’s home health services has been gratifying, a way of providing not only medical services, but also a helping hand to others – but something was always missing, Singleton said.
“It just seemed like there was so much more, something beyond the services we have been providing all along,” she said.
As Singleton thought and prayed about it, she was joined in April 2015 by Rhonda Baze, who would join the Right Choice team as community liaison. It was then a plan slowly came into focus – a house that could be turned into the home so needed by many seniors.
“It can be so difficult for seniors to remain independent – if they don’t have someone to help, there is so much to keeping up a house or even an apartment,” Baze said. “The maintenance, the cooking and then the healthcare they might need.”
“This is a solution, something that is not just a service but a home,” Singleton said.
Home Choice is just that, a home located in northwest Oklahoma City, large and specially fitted and ready for seniors to move in. While the house features some amenities found in assisted living facilities – things like 24-hour common area video monitoring, fire sprinklers, emergency lighting, an above-ground storm shelter and even a small salon – it is a private house with large living areas, private, fully accessible bathrooms and a sunny patio and backyard.
“It really is a home, like any home, where everyone has their own room – couples together or in adjoining rooms, if they like, roommates, singles on their own,” Singleton said. “They can garden if they like, play games, have companionship or just be on their own when they like – but they will always have the medical care and support they need, every hour of the day.”
Because the home houses only nine people, that means caregivers can give everyone everything they need, Singleton said. From nursing services to help with everyday issues like hygiene, exercise, transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping and more. Costs will include rent, utilities, home and yard maintenance, food and all care.
“It really is completely their choice,” Baze said. “They can be part of meal planning and cooking if they like, or they can be pampered and served.”
“Everyone needs to feel useful, to feel needed and some people will want to do things like gardening, like helping with other aspects of the house, they might want to volunteer somewhere, they want to be independent as long as they can, and that’s all possible here,” Baze said. “From the most independent of seniors, those who can drive and are very active to those bed-bound – everyone is welcome.”
Caregivers will be on duty 24 hours a day and will be chosen from long-standing Right Choice employees with a proven track record.
“In fact, anyone wanting to be part of this had to submit a separate application and go through a separate interview process,” Baze said. “We want people who are on the same page as us and who truly understand what is expected of them.”
“It’s always been most important to me that caregivers treat those we serve the way they would expect to be treated,” Singleton said. “We provide companionship, care and what they need to have a full and happy life – and that’s what’s important.”