Assisted living homes are an addition to society created with the intention to help those individuals who need a bit of aid around the house. In most cases they aren’t intended to be full-on care, but just for smaller things that can become more difficult to do with age, such as laundry and cooking. Nowadays these homes have become so normalized that some don’t need to think twice about signing up to move into one.
They also don’t expect them to close suddenly and leave their residents behind to fend for themselves.
Such was the case for a particular assisted living home for the elderly in California.
One day, the Valley Springs Manor closed, leaving about 16 residents without a place to go.
Horrified by the situation, Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, a cook and janitor in the house respectively, had no idea what the future held for these people.
“There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, ‘What are we going to do?’” Rowland explained to NPR.
“If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody,” Alvarez added.
Thinking of the abandoned residents had Alvarez recalling unfortunate—and strikingly similar—memories from when he was younger.
“My parents, when they were younger, they left me abandoned,” Alvarez shared. “Knowing how they are going to feel, I didn’t want them to go through that.”
Stressing over the frightening scenarios and possibilities that would happen to the residents, the two decided that something had to be done. So they came to a very big decision together.
They were going to keep the home open themselves.
Committing to this idea, the pair dealt with long hours and stressful nights to keep everyone safe and healthy. With some of the residents dealing with serious conditions such as dementia, this proved to be quite the daunting task.
“I would only go home for one hour, take a shower, get dressed, then be there for 24-hour days,” Alvarez explains.
The two were very determined. Rowland says he needed to always be on his watch to make sure everyone was safe.
“I just couldn’t see myself going home — next thing you know, they’re in the kitchen trying to cook their own food and burn the place down,” Rowland went on to explain.
“Even though they wasn’t our family, they were kind of like our family for this short period of time.”
Rowland and Alvarez kept the home open for five days, after which the fire department and police took over the residents’ care. Thanks to their efforts, new legislation was put into effect in California: the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014. Under this law, residences need to acquire liability insurance. Because of it, hopefully no similar situations would be able to take place in the future.
Rowland says all the long days and nights were worth it.
“If I would’ve left, I think that would have been on my conscience for a very long time,” Rowland said.