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The healing power of friendship

Neighborly connections are strong at Fox Run

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May 30th, 2017
J.V. Anandan helped to start Fox Run’s Friendly Visitors Group, which dispatches independent living residents to spend time socializing with their neighbors in Fox Run’s continuing care neighborhood.

J.V. Anandan helped to start Fox Run’s Friendly Visitors Group, which dispatches independent living residents to spend time socializing with their neighbors in Fox Run’s continuing care neighborhood.

J.V. Anandan spent his career in the medical field. He taught pharmacology and therapeutics at Wayne State University and had a joint appointment as an administrator at Henry Ford Hospital. He also conducted research on how drugs affect older patients, who may require different doses. Now in retirement, he continues caring for others.

“I took students on rounds with medical staff, so I am familiar with a lot of diseases. After I retired I wanted to use that knowledge to help people,” J.V. says.

Simple, meaningful interactions

After J.V. and his wife Jeraldine moved to Fox Run, he found a unique way to help people. It occurred to J.V. that the residents living at Fox Run’s continuing care neighborhood might benefit from visits with their independent living neighbors. He brought up the idea to Executive Director Mike McCormick and even met with staff from a local care community that had a successful visitor program to get some ideas. 

“I said, ‘We can go over and just talk to residents and not be involved in any medical care,’” J.V. says. “That human element has been studied very widely in psychology and medical literature, and it is so important for healing.”

With management’s blessing, J.V. launched the Friendly Visitors Group, a team of independent-living residents who visit with their neighbors in continuing care. They spend time chatting, help deliver mail, and bring a variety of books and newspapers. They offer the simple but meaningful kinds of interactions that can really lift the spirits of people who aren’t feeling well.

“We don’t just visit, we did caroling during Christmas, and people enjoyed that very much,” J.V. says. “Then we also have members who help out with games like bingo every Friday. We do a variety of activities, and we add things as we go along and see what people need.”

The Friendly Visitors Group has been very well received by both independent living neighbors and the residents in continuing care. The program has grown quite a bit over the last few years. It started with a handful of volunteers; today there are currently almost 60 people in the group.

New ways to serve

When Jamie Flowers joined Fox Run’s staff as the pastoral care coordinator, he started helping out with the organization of the group. He says the beauty of the Friendly Visitors Group is its simplicity and focus on companionship. 

“Because the group is composed of people who care about their neighbors, they are always looking for new ways to serve,” Flowers says. “We expect to see the group continue to grow, and at some point we could see the group [visiting] their neighbors in independent living as well.”

Flowers says the Friendly Visitors Group has received outstanding feedback from both residents and staff in the continuing care neighborhood.

“The residents love the personal visits as well as the larger events provided,” Flowers says. “The staff and leadership in continuing care state that the group provides a significant role in the overall care.”

J.V. says the spouses and children of people living in the continuing care neighborhood also appreciate the companionship that the friendly visitors provide for their family members.

“A lot of family members say how happy they are that somebody came to see their loved one,” J.V. says. “There’s a lot of positive reinforcement, and we get new volunteers every month.”

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