Jane: Older people, younger people and, and even kids that are underserved, how do they all work together? And what are the intersections. So they talked about food and they talked about technology, but not like you. And I think about technology, but how to have young people help older people with it?
Welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. My name is Jane Rohde and I am from JSR Associates and Live Together. And we’re here with Shernise Richardson, who also worked with JSR Associates and Live Together. Welcome Shernise.
Shernise: Hi Jane. Thanks for having me.
Jane: So good to have you here. So I thought today we would talk about intergenerational living and some of the work that we’ve been doing together. And I thought we could start out with a story. I wondered if you would mind telling us about your grandfather and how he’s influenced the work that you do in the intergenerational space?
Shernise: Yes, of course. So my, my grandfather, he was known as a master barber of Baltimore City. He ran the neighborhood sanitary barber shop on GreenMount Avenue which is actually still there. And so he was known as the guy to go to in the neighborhood, if you just wanted to come in the shop and just hang there, sit there and talk to him. He always opened up his door for everyone. His main thing is he always wanted to help the young people. He knew that there was a major gap between younger generation having the information that they needed, the guidance that they needed. And he just wanted to be that person. And I’m not sure if he ever felt that way when he was younger. And you know, before he did barbering, he was actually working as a trucker. So took a lot for him to find his way too. So a part of me thinks that he really felt that need, he wanted to be that need or fulfill that need as far as the young people in the community.
And so with that, with the barbering, he would invite anybody who wanted to come and learn to cut here, he would say, yeah, just come over here to my chair, I’m a teacher right now. Or if they wanted to come back every day and just sit there and talk to him, he was fine with that. All of my uncles they became barbers, every single one of them. He had them working in the shop with him, so always wanted to keep them out of trouble. So you’re gonna be here working with me if anything. And so a lot of the neighborhood, you know, kids saw that. And so that inspired them. And no matter if the customers had money to pay for their haircut or whatever, he just wanted to make his customers feel good.
It almost reminds you of the movie the barbershop movie. And, but he was really, really that person. And he was, you know, also a very religious person, but when it came to showing love and everything like that, I think he looked at that also as far as bringing and putting his heart into what he was doing. And so his main thing, he just wanted to help everybody fulfill that love that was missing from communities and everything like that. And he used borrowing to do that.
Jane: It’s such a beautiful story. I watch, I love the story cause I watch you and how your heart grows and builds, and you can see how it comes from that. Same of wanting to create space, create good design, create space that changes things in the environment for people and supports them. We make a good pair, I think, with your design passion and my crazy passion for operations and trying to make things function well and work well for everybody. We’ve talked a lot about person-centered care in our careers and person centered, not just being the individual resident, but the family and the people who work there and all the different people who are involved in a community. And when we talk about intergenerational, I think that the shop experience provides sort of a base, right. What does intergenerational mean and what does person centered mean? And so how do you see where some of the intergenerational concepts we’ve been talking about? Where do they come from in terms of that experience that you saw? What do you see as bringing people together? What are they key components and parts of how we bring different generations together to live more of a normal life?
5:07 Shernise: Just creating space. Creating space, creating that opportunity, letting them know that this is not just where I belong, and this is where you belong. It’s a welcoming atmosphere. And I feel like if you’re putting almost like a space and trying to draw these two different generations in, and you just create that opportunity people will come to it. So you have to provide that space. And if it’s done with intention, I feel like people can feel that if in, with certain design practices that people understand they experience a space. And so when you have something that’s intentionally separated, they can feel that they can feel like, oh, this is just for them. That’s not for me. And so I’m just gonna stay over here. I feel like that’s where it starts providing the space. And with that space, people see opportunity. I don’t think if you like start getting like really deep into the details of opportunity that people will experience the space that you’re expecting them to. I think people create their own opportunity, create their own experience, but if you just provide that space, you’ll be able to see what happens. So I think that’s the main important thing.
Jane: So it’s interesting because we’ve all seen the spaces that are so curated down to the last teaspoon of control, right. Controlling either the interior or the architect. Of it, or even the operation programming of it and saying, no, you can’t have your tea over here, or you have to get up at 4:00 AM because we gotta get you to the table at seven. None of that talks to person-centered care. And then there’s the components that bring people together. So when we had our, our darling Sterling, who was from one of the local high schools, worked with us for a while, and he was part of a Stem Program and some of the community research that they did as part of the school project for the community project, which always kind of tickled me because it was like, all right, young people, are you interested? He goes, you’d be amazed. He goes to school, they’re all over this about what happens between older people and younger people. And I wasn’t really expecting that, so the two groups did and looked at our challenge was basically how to older people, younger people and, and even kids that are underserved, how do they all work together? And what are the intersections?
They talked about food and they talked about technology, but not like you. And I think about technology, but how to have young people help older people with it. And then the other part was the activities, like some type of recreation. If you provide the cafe space, but allow for natural neighboring, it doesn’t all have to be completely programmed. And we’ve seen that with generations of hope, too, that there’s a portion that’s staff, because you have to have a little bit of framework but the framework has to be flexible enough to allow people to be people.
Jane: How many spaces have we seen where we go to review an existing project? And you’re like nope, just having an open courtyard with nothing in it and bad drainage and civil engineers seem to like to pitch everything to the drain in the middle of the space, which we could never quite understand. So, no offense to civil engineers but what we looked at was just that opportunity of creating a room from the beginning. That’s an outdoor space. So the work we did in, in China, when we looked at doing that, we had everything from a labyrinth that was a walking space outside of physical therapy to a wander garden, to water features, and big debates about water features.
Can you have them, can you not have them? And a lot of it was as long as you have a really solid toileting incontinence program, you can have water features. So, you had to look at both sides of it. I always like the thought of being able to have indoor outdoor dining. And now since COVID, everyone’s like, well, don’t you have an outdoor dining space cause it’s almost expected. Whereas before we wouldn’t have even had the opportunity. Then it kind of adds on to the outdoor space has all these other values, right? We have daylight for resetting Arcadian systems for people to sleep better at night vitamin D manufacturing because of exposed to the sun, having shaded spaces and non-shaded spaces so that you have a variety and treating those spaces as though there are rooms in their own, like they’re not afterthoughts. That’s always frustrating when outdoor space becomes afterthoughts because it’s so valuable to the health and wellness of the individuals.
So when we talk about multi-generational, it really goes a little bit beyond that cause really is intergenerational because we do have some services that are available and evaluation for people to have resources. Right. So one of the things we’ve seen a lot is being able to provide sort of a triad of care if you will. So sort of having the nurse and the social work and PT, OT services, but having that access in different ways. We’ve been working on one project that has residential assisted living, which is in this case it’s called adult foster care. Every state’s different. We know, we have all those issues but it really feels like that’s an opportunity within a multi-family building to accommodate older adults that have higher needs. So instead of we think of a personal care home or a smaller resident being out in the community, which is good too, cause we do those as well. But there’s the other piece of what if it’s part of a multi-generational community? So it breaks down the silos of what you have in a continuing care retirement community. And it becomes a Live Together community, that fills that in. Right. Does that, does that seem like it, it resonates with everything we’ve been working on?
13:34 Shernise: Yes. Most definitely. And just sitting here, thinking about what you were just saying as far as providing those different, different stages or different types of care, us providing like that adult foster care option within a multifamily, you’re sitting there thinking about, you have all these different types of people that are experiencing all different types of life. So from the independent living to adult foster living to this family who’s living in the building also you might have a childcare center that’s right next to the building, if we’re thinking about all the research and everything that we’ve done when these people come in contact with all different types or stages of life, I feel like it prolongs life a little bit more like you have the access to the little kids that’s running across the lawn.
That’s just like, just walk up to anybody. Like my two year old he’ll walk up to like, hi, how are you doing? And, you know, and think nothing of it, just because he wants to see somebody smile, see somebody laugh. And you know, you know a senior is sitting there and they’re, you know, just like, oh, who’s little kid. And they sit there and be able to play with them for a little bit. To me that’s an immediate like boost in somebody’s day or and so just putting these different components, it’s not just saying, oh, we just want everybody to live here where it’s, it’s done with intention to the point of, we know that everyone benefits from one another.
Everybody has the different experiences. Everybody is trying to learn something. Everybody’s trying to evolve, even though some people don’t like change, unfortunately change happens. And so I feel like providing this experience is less of a force, like take this change and more like, experience this change and you can change with it. It’s fine.
Jane: It’s such, and it’s such a different atmosphere. So if we take the apartment idea for residential assisted living and say, okay, so they’re already familiar with everybody. You lose in the building. Everyone has access to everyone in the building. It’s not like you’re ripping someone outta their community and saying, okay, we’re now gonna put you in a nursing home that doesn’t have a person centered care model. It doesn’t have consistent staff. It doesn’t have all these other pieces and parts that allow people to feel like they’re cared for by the same people or get to know them. So, you know, my, my foster daughter Taisha. She’s just moved back up to Baltimore. But before this, she had this client who was blind and she only on the weekends with her. So she needed something more full time. So she’s still with the same agency, but she’s moved back up to Baltimore, but it was really hard for her to leave her because they bonded. She goes, I didn’t take this other job, mom, because this is really important to me because I, I bonded with her and I said, well, you still have her number. You can still reach out. You can still connect, you can go visit her, but they created a friendship and it meant something to the woman’s daughter, as well as to the elder. And, and I just look at that and I think that’s really what it’s about. It’s about knowing that a little, you know, Kyle’s running across the grass to talk with somebody, but he could also go in and say, hello, someone needed to have some company in a smaller environment or in their home or in the department.
And I see, I hear a lot about the workforce development of course, cause that’s our, one of our biggest problems, right. Is a staffing of things. And so one of the reasons we wanted to do the intergenerational model also to get the demonstration project finished, we’re working on a few right now. We’ll see which one pops to the top. But the idea is that you be able to use that demonstration project to actually hands-on train and show people that this is possible. You know, I think so many people it’s like the, no, nope, can’t do that. Nope, can’t do that. And we like, well, why can’t you? Have you explored it a little further? Have you exhausted all possibilities?
In some of our projects, I feel like we have, but we still are working on how do we provide a continuum of care within the context of the need of the community at large. And I think we miss that a lot of times, it’s only about how many homes can we get on this lot? Not how many people are gonna be living here. Who are they? What’s their favorite meal? When do they like to get up? You know, how can we make them more comfortable? Cuz I think about how isolation has impacted all of us. So we can all imagine right. Being put into some place where you don’t know anyone and perhaps she don’t hear very well, and you’re not particularly outgoing if you’re more introverted too. And then you’re put into a setting where, you know no one, you don’t know where the restroom is. You don’t know where to eat. You don’t, you know, so you kind of close down and close off.
But what if it was the opposite? What if workforce development was right on set, you got to meet some of the people who, were caring for people, all those different pieces and parts. I mean, I think that’s what makes my heart happy, you know, is seeing how some of those interactions can really be done and really done. I agree so well, thank you for your time. That will breeze through really quickly. We didn’t wondered about filling up the time. So thank you everyone. Shernise, great to talk with you as always. And thanks for listening to this week’s BTG Contributor Wednesday.