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What is the RAC?

Maris Grove Resident Advisory Council gives residents a voice

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April 16th, 2015
Once a week, RAC Chair Nancy Tomcufcik (left) and Maris Grove Executive Director Maureen Heckler meet to update one another about life at Maris Grove.
Once a week, RAC Chair Nancy Tomcufcik (left) and

For some people, retirement means no more meetings. But Ken Horton, who lives at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., recently added a host of meetings to his monthly calendar. And he’s looking forward to attending them.

As vice chair of Maris Grove’s Resident Advisory Council, Ken serves as liaison to Concord Township’s board of supervisors and Garnet Valley’s school board. He attends their monthly meetings plus a few subcommittee meetings. 

He also meets monthly with the chair of Maris Grove’s financial committee.

What he learns keeps Maris Grove residents abreast of issues on campus and in the surrounding community. 

“Getting involved this way is in my nature,” Ken says. “I feel comfortable volunteering, so I do.”

Communication: a two-way street

Nancy Tomcufcik, who moved to Maris Grove because she no longer wanted to live alone, eat alone, and care for her condominium alone, chairs the RAC. 

A secretary and five other members complete the roster. They share a strong commitment to maintaining and enhancing the lifestyle Maris Grove residents enjoy.

The RAC’s role is strictly advisory, Nancy says. “We propose and partner, and management ultimately decides.” But the RAC ensures that residents’ voices are heard. 

“We make communication a two-way street,” says Nancy. “The administration can come to us for suggestions about or reactions to things they want to do. And residents can approach any of us with questions.”

Maureen Heckler is Maris Grove’s executive director. “We’re fortunate to have a management team that listens,” Nancy says. “Maureen is very open to suggestions, she keeps us well informed, and if something can’t be implemented, she gives us very good reasons why not.” 

Heckler and Nancy meet every week to update one another, exchange ideas, and relay concerns.

Five council members each serve as a liaison to a specific Maris Grove department; those departments are dining services, general services, resident life, continuing care, and the medical center. 

The department heads are all very responsive, Nancy says. 

Rose Court is Maris Grove’s on-site rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood. The full-service medical center, staffed by Maris Grove physicians and visiting specialists, is also on-site. 

Nancy, Ken, and the five liaisons share their information twice each month, first at a council meeting with Heckler, the finance committee chair, and a representative from Erickson Living’s board of directors.

The following week, they hold a well-attended, community-wide RAC meeting that also features a Maris Grove staff person or local government official as guest speaker. 

A committee that gets things done

Dick Johnson liaises with Maris Grove’s medical center. He relays residents’ questions and concerns to Practice Manager Joe Maloney and channels Maloney’s news, such as availability of the new pneumonia vaccine, back to residents.

Dick recently formed a special medical committee of seven residents and Maloney. “We thought more eyes and ears would be helpful to residents and the medical department both,” he says. 

The committee immediately tackled two important projects.

One is a directory of answers to frequently asked questions related to the medical department, such as “If I have a medical emergency here, what hospital do I go to?” (One that naturally has a great reputation.)Every resident will receive a copy of the directory.

The other project will educate residents about how to access and use the medical center’s new online health portal. Projects like these illustrate what the RAC is all about: It partners with Maris Grove’s administration to enhance residents’ lives.

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