Harrison Senior Living provides home away from home

John B. Parsons Assisted Living recognized as a leading senior living community
June 1, 2017
The folks at Harrison Senior Living know “there’s no place like home,” but when you can’t be home because of illness, injury or disability, they try to make their facilities the next best thing.

The John B. Parsons Assisted Living Community in Salisbury is recognized as one of the leading senior living communities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Harrison House of Georgetown has provided outstanding skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to residents of Delaware for more than 30 years. “These communities are set up to be as home-like and accommodating as possible,” said Amber Stevens, Executive Director at the Parsons community.

For any of its facilities, the mission of Harrison Senior Living is to provide:

• Excellent healthcare by a professional experienced staff in an atmosphere of warmth and concern;

• Opportunities to increase your peace of mind, maintain your dignity and define an exciting new way of life; and

A home-like environment to share and create memories under a blanket of care and services.

Nearly fifty years ago, James P. and Katherine Harrison, R.N., founded Harrison Senior Living with the purchase of a 17-acre farm in Christiana, Pa., where they built a skilled nursing facility. The first resident was James’ father. In 1977 a second facility was built in Snow Hill, Md., Katherine’s hometown. The family-owned company expanded again in 1983 with the purchase of the former Coatesville Hospital in Chester County, Pa., which was converted to a personal care and independent senior living apartment community.

Impressed by the company’s reputation, the board of directors of what was then the John B. Parsons-Salisbury Home for the Aged approached the Harrisons, who agreed to take over that assisted living facility under a five-year lease. In 1989, they purchased the mansion, which had been built in 1904 for the daughter of a former Maryland governor and was expanded as a residence for war widows by businessman John B. Parsons in 1919. In his honor, the Harrisons maintained the name of the 49-bed facility as John B. Parsons Assisted Living Community. The estate, once “one of the handsomest in Salisbury,” was renovated with modern amenities and larger rooms without changing its historical ambiance. The interior is decorated with fine art and antiques as one might expect in a 113-year-old mansion. The well-landscaped grounds may be enjoyed from cozy sun rooms or rocking chairs on a covered porch; feeling more as a large bed & breakfast than an assisted living facility. 

“One of the Harrison’s grandsons is a registered landscape architect and has seen to it that there is a beautiful courtyard, potting shed and even a vegetable garden that the residents maintain,” Stevens said.  He is now the company’s CEO and took that position to ensure the organization maintains the same commitments to quality originally instilled by his grandparents. 

Residents dine in the original, intimate dining room, attended by wait staff as in any fine restaurant, with high quality, local cuisine prepared by their own chef. The menu for a recent luncheon included fried soft shell crab sandwiches.

Staff is available 24 hours a day to assist with activities of daily living, medication management and a helping hand when needed. Rehabilitation services are available on site and chauffeured transportation services are provided by staff with a smile.

The home is situated right in the heart of downtown Salisbury, within walking distance of the public library and downtown plaza.

“The residence is extremely affordable, compared to other large-facility competitors,” Stevens said. In some cases, spouses have moved in also, either sharing a room or in a separate apartment.  The facility has even enabled inseparable siblings to continue cohabitating. Residents may come and go as they please. Some drive, manage their own finances and medicines, but no longer have to deal with cooking, cleaning and yardwork. “We are as accommodating as possible so our residents can have the freedom to live their lives with independence and flexibility,” Stevens added.

Parsons even has a “house dog” and two house cats. A rescued English setter mix named Henry was adopted as a Christmas gift for residents two years ago. Two kittens, “Macaroni” and “Cheese,” were born on the property and live in the memory care neighborhood. With prior approval, pets can move in with residents. Lots of families visit with pets, Stevens said. One daughter comes every day with her Bichon Frise, Lillie, to visit her mother.

Harrison House of Georgetown offers even more skilled nursing care and is designed for shorter term rehabilitation stays, although it does also offer one of the state’s largest secured memory care units. The 139-bed community has been designated a “Best of Delmarva” care provider and is recognized by referring hospitals for its excellence.  Aligned with Beebe Healthcare, the Georgetown team meets with the post-acute hospital team monthly to ensure top performance.

A team of licensed healthcare professionals works directly with residents, their families and their physicians to create an individual plan of care for each resident. In addition to skilled nursing, certified therapists are available to provide state-of-the-art physical, speech and occupational therapy programs, with a goal of helping residents regain their full potential and independence.  They even now offer VitalStim therapies for those recovering from strokes.

“If you’ve had a hip replaced, Harrison House won’t feel like a nursing home. You know you’re not staying,” Stevens said. “It looks like a big hotel, with a cathedral ceiling, a private dining room with menus from which you can order home-cooked meals, restaurant-style.”

All long-term rooms and common areas there are being renovated for a fresh appearance. The warm and welcoming facility has large windows and sun-washed interiors and lovely gardens that provide an ambiance of healing, hope and vitality.  The gardens and views from each window are not just a hallmark of Harrison Senior Living for their beauty but are carefully designed for their natural effect on the healing process, which has been scientifically proven through a number of studies.  Activities, programs, events and outings are planned and guided by a nationally certified activities director. Friendly, caring staff members attend to the smallest details to support the highest quality of life for residents.

For more information on either facility, visit www.harrisonseniorliving.com. For John B. Parsons, call (410) 742-1432. For Harrison House in Georgetown, call (302) 856-4574.

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