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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 28, 2010

Research essential in finding quality care facility


By Rob Perez
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kn'Ole Estate operator Beth Slavens puts a flower in the hair of Kailua home resident Mary Lee during a health and beauty session.

Photos by BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sitting from left: Norma Smith, 102, Pearl Schneider, 89, and Eugene Kindig, 86, watch a hula performance by the Kailua Seniors Chorale group, with staffers Shannon Miranda, middle, and Grace Yago, right, at the Kn'Ole Estates Elima care facility in Kailua.

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With nearly 1,000 adult foster homes, 500 care homes, 50 nursing homes, 11 assisted living facilities and a host of other specialized long-term-care settings throughout the state, quality of care can vary significantly from place to place.

But if you do your homework, you usually can find a safe, clean and stimulating environment for a loved one, the experts say.

Take Beth Slavens' Windward O'ahu expanded care homes, called Kīnā'Ole Estate.

Her cluster of homes two in Kāne'ohe and one in Kailua receives exceptional reviews by family members who have elder relatives living there.

"It's the kind of place where I would want my mom to be," said Steven Lee, whose mother, Mary Lee, 86, has been a resident in Slavens' Kailua home for nearly two years. "I have confidence she's well taken care of."

Lee and others interviewed lauded the clean and spacious residences, the professional and friendly staff and the social activities that keep their loved ones engaged with others.

"I have nothing but good things to say," said Dorothy Grossman, whose husband, Jerry Grossman, 85, moved to the Kailua home in January.

With a base price of $5,800 a month, Kīnā'Ole residents get a private room, meals, basic care and a host of activities to keep them busy. The price increases as more specialized care is required.

Bill Johnson, whose mother, Jessie Pilali Johnson, 87, also is at the Kailua home, said the money is well spent.

"Financially, it's a tough burden on a family, no doubt about that," Johnson said. "But she's clean and she's safe."

Slavens, a former special education teacher, has operated the homes each holds up to eight residents since 2002 and employs about 30 workers. She expects to open two more this summer.

During a down economy, she said, it's more difficult to keep the beds full. But her biggest challenge, she added, is dealing with the time-consuming requirements of a government bureaucracy that oversees care homes.

Slavens' homes are among the more than 1,500 long-term-care facilities of all types statewide, employing thousands of people.

Industry officials and senior advocates say the majority of facilities provide exceptional care, with hard-working, compassionate caregivers. But they say families should invest enough time to find a good fit for their loved ones.

"Once you find the right match, it's such a relief," said Alicia Swanson, whose father tried two homes before finding one he liked in Wahiawā in 2008. "You can see your loved one happy."

Reina Pawid checks  the blood pressure of Elima resident Sam Fisicaro.

Reina Pawid checks the blood pressure of Elima resident Sam Fisicaro.

Kina'Ole Estate operator Beth Slavens leans over a sofa to hear what Elima resident Jessie Pilali Johnson, 87, is saying. Slavens' cluster of care homes in Kane'ohe and Kailua receive exceptional reviews by family members of residents.

Kina 'Ole Estate operator Beth Slavens leans over a sofa to hear what Elima resident Jessie Pilali Johnson, 87, is saying. Slavens' cluster of care homes in Kane'ohe and Kailua receive exceptional reviews by family members of residents.