By Emily Banks Wooten
Russ Johnson, executive director of Escapees CARE Inc., presented a program to the Livingston Rotary Club recently. He explained that Escapees CARE Inc., located at 155 Care Center Dr. about five miles south on Hwy. 146., is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that offers a respite care program and resident program to those whose medical and support circumstances qualify them for admission and that the various programs offered continue to evolve as additional needs and the ability to satisfy them arise.
Through the residential program, people may live fulltime in their RVs, sleeping in their own beds and using their own bathrooms. Their belongings may be stored in their own storage building. They receive site maintenance and help dumping their tanks. They also receive help with their propane, holding tanks and awnings.
Meals, snacks and drinks are available daily and two laundry loads may be washed and folded weekly. If they so choose, residents may take a day off while someone else does the housekeeping in the rig every other week.
Free transport to medical appointments is provided, as well as weekly supervised shopping trips. Numerous recreational activities are provided, such as bingo, dominos, card games and board games. There are also various opportunities to socialize, including exercise classes, craft projects, pet shows, outings, parties and other various special events.
The respite care program is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for individuals who need care during the day while family members are at work. There is a nurse and staff on duty during business days and health is monitored daily. Prescribed medication is administered and wound care and dressing changes are provided.
Bathing and aid with personal care is available, as well as assistance with meal and snack times and help with prescribed exercises. There are supervised activities and crafts in addition to social interaction with others.
The respite care program eliminates the perception of abandonment while providing security for those with dementia and Alzheimers disease.
Johnson said the goal of the respite care program is to lessen the burden on twenty-four-hour caregivers. “It’s difficult to care for other people if you don’t take care of yourself,” he said.
The cost is $40 a day and one free day is offered to new clients. While a membership in the Escapees RV Club is $40 a year, Johnson said the respite care program is open to everybody because you’re only there for the day.
“You had to put up serious money and sign contracts to get into nursing home. Kay Peterson, the founder of Escapees RV Club, came up with this idea of having a campground and you come and pay for one month up front and if you don’t like it then you leave,” Johnson said.
“What we do at Escapees CARE is allow people to come in with their RV. This is really a program designed to keep you moving. Move it or lose it,” Johnson said. “We have this very good experience in what we have. Kay created us (Escapees CARE) but we are a separate thing.
“We use a lot of volunteers. That’s one way we keep the costs low. It is independent living. You have to apply. For $1,100 we provide sites, mowing, meals, tank dumping, laundry, housekeeping, activities and a full-time nurse, but no electric or propane,” Johnson said.
“We do fundraisers. We have an annual health fair and the next one is April 2022. We also do an Octoberfest which is for commercial enterprises,” Johnson said.
“The most satisfaction I’ve ever gotten at a job is here at CARE because of the relationships formed and the love. Innovation is a wonderful thing when we all work together,” Johnson said.
For additional information about Escapees CARE Inc. call 936-327-4256.