For Brenda Allen, the good old days are literally flashing before her eyes.
Allen is a resident of New Community Extended Care Facility, a skilled nursing facility in Newark that recently completed a significant upgrade to its amenities: flat screen televisions are now featured in every residents’ room. Each television has access to 48 cable channels, including popular options such as the Food Network, Comedy Central, ESPN, BET, Lifetime and more.
On a recent afternoon, Allen reclined in her bed while watching an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” on TV Land.
“I like that stuff,” she said with a grin. As of January, every resident’s room at the 180-bed capacity nursing home located at 266 South Orange Ave. in Newark was outfitted with a 32-inch Samsung flat screen television, Facility Administrator Robert Smolin said. The glossy, black-framed televisions are mounted on the wall in front of each resident’s bed, allowing for easy viewing access.
“It’s an improvement over all these years,” said Sharon Grant, a licensed practical nurse who has worked at Extended Care for 20 years. “The residents seem to be excited,” she added.
The effort to outfit the entire four-story nursing home with televisions started back in 2014, according to Smolin. He worked closely with the NCC departments of Environmental Services, to purchase the televisions, and Information Technology, to get the building wired and connected to DirecTV.
Previously, if a resident wanted to enjoy a show, they were allowed to bring in their own television set. However, this also required an antenna and a converter box for the televisions, many of which did not produce clear images. Now, the pictures on every screen are crisp and each resident has control of a remote with a built-in speaker that allows for clear audio as well.
“I think it’s a big change. It’s a historic day,” Smolin said.
President of the Resident Association Robert Cook enjoys watching crime shows and described his viewing experience as “very clear and the sound is good.”
Smolin noted that watching television, in addition to providing a source of entertainment and information to both long term and short term nursing home residents, can also serve as “a psychological comfort.” Spanish-speaking channels are also among the options offered to residents.
“As a baby boomer, I really like TV,” he added, “whether it’s watching a movie, comedy or sports.”
Randy Curry, a resident on the second floor, now looks forward to watching the morning and evening news. “It’s real great,” he said enthusiastically.