by Mallory Gruben, Tillamook Chamber
TILLAMOOK — When it comes to senior services, Prestige Senior Living Five Rivers in Tillamook shirks the usual stereotypes.
Instead of falling asleep over a bowl of Jell-o, the residents at combined independent and assisted living facility prefer to spend their mealtimes belting out the lyrics to their favorite karaoke tunes.
“For most of the people we serve at Five Rivers, the words ‘nursing home,’ make them say, ‘oh my god, that’s where I’m going to die.’ But in our facility, people actually come here to live,” said Executive Director Ann Rubino. “Our motto is to give them a happy life every day. We have a lot of fun here with our activities, including karaoke and happy hour.”
The facility’s success in maintaining happy and healthy lives for its residents stems from staff creativity and community partnerships, Rubino said. The on-site activities director organizes innovative activities to engage the residents on-site, while also working with other organizations to get the residents involved in programs beyond the walls of the facility.
This year, for example, the residents participated in several art workshops in the facility. Then, they entered their final pieces into the Tillamook County Fair.
“We had seven residents enter art, and a lot of them won first place prizes,” Rubino said. “It can be easy for people to forget what they did for pleasure when they first move into a facility like ours. When they are involved in the community, they are out there doing the thigs they used to do, and that makes them happy. It fulfills a need in their lives, and I think it keeps them alive longer.”
Among some of its most beneficial partnerships for staying connected with the community at large is Five Rivers’ membership with the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce, Rubino said. The senior living facility celebrates its 20th year as a member of the Chamber this month.
“I especially appreciate all the Chamber does to keep the community informed about events and resources through its weekly #HowWeChamber newsletter,” Rubino said. “We print off the Chamber newsletter and read it together with the residents every week. They love it, because they like knowing what’s happening around town.”
The Chamber also helps amplify messaging about Five Rivers’ programs, including the organization’s new luxury accommodations for adults age 55+ who are visiting the Oregon Coast. The facility rents out reasonably priced rooms, much like a bed and breakfast would. The program also serves relatives of the residents, so families have a place to stay while they are visiting their parents or grandparents, even when other hotels may be booked.
“The Chamber helped us spread the word about the program with a Facebook post,” Rubino said. “We really appreciate their willingness to promote Five Rivers and their other Chamber members, because it shines light on some of the amazing organizations we have in this community. We’re all in this together, taking care of each other.”
Five Rivers also partners with the local Senior Center to serve special lunches once a week. Any Senior Center members who don’t live at Five Rivers also earn an invitation to join in on group activities at the building, Rubino said.
The senior living facility even hosts an annual Halloween event for local children. This year the event was pirate themed, so candy could be delivered via a PVC pipe “canon” while the residents stayed social distanced for safety.
“Because there is still a risk of getting COVID, we try to keep people as safe as we can with our activities. However, we still want to maintain social opportunities for the residents. We just have to get creative,” Rubino said.
Rubino said it’s important for the residents to attend programs or go on “field trips” outside the facility, because it “helps them never lose sight of who they are.”
“Five Rivers … provides excellent care here,” Rubino said. “The people who live here are happy.”