This KenCrest Nurse Brings Cheer to her Resident’s Home
Nurse House Manager Joyce Benfield brings holiday cheer and a homey atmosphere to her Mt. Kirk Community Medical Home.
By Sydney Kerelo
With crinkled eyes and a bright smile, Joyce Benfield welcomes us into the Mt. Kirk Community Medical Home she oversees. As the Nurse House Manager since its opening in 2018, Benfield’s supported four medically fragile adults (Brandie, Jennifer, Francis, and Shawn) to have a meaningful life. That starts with her unique style of decorating for every holiday.
“I think it makes it more of a home environment,” explains Benfield. “I want to make it as enjoyable for them as possible, and when you have all the different decorations up, it makes it feel comfortable.”
Plus, according to Benfield, the decorations provide stimulation, so the residents are not constantly staring at the same blank walls. They have something to enjoy and even interact with. Every time Joyce changes the holiday decorations, she involves the residents saying, “it is all about getting to make their house a home, which is why we decorate for every holiday.”
Right now, the home is decked out head-to-toe in Valentine’s Day red and pink. Hearts and flowers cover the home, creating a relaxed and welcoming environment. The residents adore helping to hang decorations, watching movies, baking cookies while practicing hand-over-hand stirring, and listening to joyful music—mostly country, with the staff.
Alan pictured with a few staff members
“All our residents want is to talk to you and be with you,” says Benfield. “In this home, we can spend time with each person. Our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and nurses help each person do their daily living activities like getting them showered, and dressed, feeding them their meals, and even participating in music and massage therapy that we have during the week.”
One resident, Mikey, is completely blind but enjoys riding in the van. So, most days, Benfield or the transport nurse will take a van ride so he can get out of the home and do something he enjoys.
The Mt. Kirk staff have become extremely close with the medically fragile adults. According to Benfield, they spend more time with their residents than their own families, and when caring for them daily, the staff become close to them and their families.
Sitting in the Mt. Kirk house surrounded by Valentine’s Day decorations, and cozy furnishings, Benfield describes one of her favorite memories from working in this home. At the pandemic’s beginning, one former resident got sick with COVID and went to the hospital.
“I was a mess when they would not let me in with him. I fought so hard, I would wear any PPE they had, but they would not let us in, so he ended up dying in the hospital. A week after Alan passed, I noticed a baby deer lying in the yard of the Mt. Kirk home. We brought him inside, and he was struggling to breathe,” says Benfield, as she recalls Alan always looking at the deer from the kitchen window. “As we tried to find someone to pick it up, it had a seizure and died in my arms. It was horrible, I was bawling my eyes out, but I felt like it was Alan giving me the ability to hold him while he passed.”
That day Benfield called Alan’s sister to explain what happened, and it was dead silent on the other line. She spoke up, saying she also had a baby deer in her backyard and her brother.
“It was like Chicken Soup for the Soul,” laughed Benfield. “It was a memory I will keep forever that brought me great peace to know that Alan was ok.”
Joyce Benfield and the many other nurses within KenCrest go above and beyond for the people they support; they see them as their family and loved ones.
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