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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Kinder than Kindness Itself: Life at Carmel Manor

Carmel Manor Main Entrance

Caring for the elderly is Sister Diane Mack's life work. She is the Administrator of Carmel Manor and is a member to the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. The Carmelite Sisters have been providing physical, spiritual, and emotional care to the elderly since the establishment of the Order in 1929 in the Bronx, New York.

The Carmelite Sisters were invited by the Diocese of Covington to establish Carmel Manor on the site of Kinney Estate in 1949. For the last seven decades, Carmel Manor has evolved to continuously meet the changing needs and expectations of the community.

Bird's eye view of the grounds of Carmel Manor, 2018

"[The]Carmelite Sisters are diverse in age, background, and training, but are united in the belief that life is precious, from the moment of conception to its natural end. 
[Their] story is tied to the story of every man and woman at the autumn of life — their joys and sorrows, their pains and consolations, their love of family, their hopes and dreams, their search for God and their finding Him. It’s about holding the hand of an aged person and giving meaning to their lives".

Sister Diane talking with a resident having lunch during our tour 

Carmel Manor is nestled in the woods which means lots of bird watching, visits from groundhogs, squirrels, and chipmunks. It also offers a panoramic view of the Ohio River which residents can enjoy from the large back deck.

The view from Carmel Manor's back deck

Under peaceful skies on Carmel Manor's back deck

All of Carmel Manor's buildings are connected. On cold winter days residents and staff can move between buildings without having to venture outdoors. However, the outdoors is never far away as there are large windows offering picturesque views and natural light throughout the facility.

Floor to ceiling windows create sunrooms at the end of hallways

A semi-private room with interior window providing light to both spaces

Accommodations include private, semi-private rooms, and suites. Rooms have large windows to let in natural light and private bathrooms.

Every room has a private bathroom

The colors, sounds, and smells of Carmel Manor all reflect the cozy, calm sense of relaxation of a home. Paint colors and decor are warm neutrals and walls are hung with diverse artwork from landscapes to flowers to quilts residents have made. It is so quiet and peaceful in every building. There are no overhead alarms, call bells, or jarring noises. Staff carry beepers that alert them to residents needs. And the smell. The smells of lunch being prepared; soup of the day, coffee and cinnamon buns were the only smells present. It is a pristinely clean facility.

Quilt squares made by residents


Services include personal care, nursing or long term care, short term rehabilitation, and a recently added memory care unit. Carmel Manor was recently awarded an impressive 5-star rating from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). 

Personal Care

Personal care is an option for residents who are no longer able to live on their own but don't need comprehensive nursing care. Weekly outings, daily activities including everyday happy hours, a variety of in-house entertainment programs, and crafts are part of the enriching activities offered.

Activities room at Carmel Manor

Nursing/Long Term Care

Nursing care is offered for residents who need assistance in daily life activities. Physical, Occupational, and Speech therapies are offered if needed. The staff at Carmel Manor work with families to create individualized plans for residents ensuring their needs are fully met. This ties into Carmel Manor's mission which is to not only make a positive difference in the lives of the elderly, but to help them be alive; to live life to its fullest potential. 

Mission quilt with each square representing a department at Carmel Manor

The central quilt square is the residents


Physical, Occupational, and Speech therapies are offered in the rehabilitation department. In addition to working with residents facing orthopedic, cardiac, and pulmonary issues, the rehabilitation department is currently undergoing training for national certification to treat Parkinson's disease. If a resident's goal is to return to home, the success rate is 100%. 

Courtney and Pamela work with residents in rehabilitation at Carmel Manor

Memory Care   

It's difficult to imagine the daily frustrations and struggles of someone living with memory issues such as Alzheimers or dementia. Caring for someone with memory issues requires constant patience, empathy, respect, and love. All staff in Carmel Manor's Memory Care unit are trained in dementia care and come with the understanding that they work in someone's home. Activities and daily tasks are stimulating, respectful, and individually geared to what residents can manage.

Shadow box with personal mementos on Memory Care unit

The Memory Care unit was added in 2016. Resident's living space and outdoor garden were designed to accommodate and lessen the frustrations of people living with memory issues. Outside each resident's room a shadow box is built into the wall where photos and mementos are placed so they can recognize their rooms. The hallways and garden are circular so residents don't find themselves at dead ends which can cause confusion and frustration. It's these little details that make all the difference.

Memory Care unit garden at Carmel Manor


Every offering at Carmel Manor, from meals to physical and occupational therapy to the beautifully tended grounds and garden spaces is thoughtful and is a reflection of the Carmel Manor's four core values: HospitalitySanctity of LifeCompassion, and Shared Commitment.

One of the many garden spaces at Carmel Manor


Carmel Manor welcomes persons of all faiths and beliefs. There is a beautiful chapel with stain glass, vaulted ceiling, and detailed wood carvings of Christ's life where mass is said daily and Baptist services are held weekly. Residents are always encouraged to request services of their faith.
"Our belief is that each home should provide a welcoming, person-centered environment and atmosphere of a “Home”. Personal warmth, love and care will reflect and give value and purpose to the residents’ lives. The wholistic care of each resident encompasses their physical, social, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Guided by our Catholic tradition we seek to honor the spiritual journeys of all people of all faiths".

Chapel at Carmel Manor

Artful wood carvings inside the Chapel at Carmel Manor

Side altar at the Chapel in Carmel Manor


At Carmel Manor life is respected at all levels - from birth to natural death. Residents are encouraged and expected to live life to the fullest of their abilities and staff provide support in a myriad of ways including thoughtful living spaces and daily activities modified to meet the individual needs of residents.

"[The Sisters and staff of Carmel Manor] believe that all life is sacred and we advocate especially on behalf of the elderly. We are committed to witness to the gospel message of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Acknowledging the importance of palliative care, our healing ministry does recognize that sickness, suffering and death are potential occasions of experiencing God".
A living room at Carmel Manor


Compassion, patience, and the understanding that the staff work in the home of each resident rather than residents living in a work environment is apparent in every interaction. Compassion and hospitality have been built into every brick, stone, and beam of the facility. Compassion finds its way into every smile, freshly laundered sheet, and freshly baked cinnamon bun.
"[The Sisters and staff of Carmel Manor] believe that each person is created in the image of God as an object of His personal love, and as such we are to bring hope, healing and comfort to all we encounter in our ministry. In the words of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, we strive to be “kinder than kindness itself".
Grounds outside the long term care wing at Carmel Manor


As we toured the buildings and grounds there was an obvious spirit of joy and respect reflected in not only the many thoughtful details but in the smiles, gestures, and greetings of the residents and staff.
[At Carmel Manor] our belief is that quality of care is attained by a team spirit that has a shared sense of achievement, accountability, ideas, insights and the commitment to the wise stewardship of resources. Treating one another respectfully and justly, and joining together for our common Mission, will enable us to continue to move forward with the times. 

From the renovations and architectural additions to the daily care and activities provided to residents, from the cleanliness of the entire facility to the positive attitude of the staff, Carmel Manor is a treasure. Sister Diane said it best: "It's Northern Kentucky's best kept secret".


100 Carmel Manor Road
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
2018 Admissions brochure

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