Friday, May 20, 2016

Steve: An idyllic setting and perfect day

 View from the top of the church tower in Visingsö 2016

Yesterday was our traditional visit to the resort town of Gränna and then to Visingsö island. Gränna is a pretty town nestled on the shore of Lake Vättern. We get there early in order to give the students a chance to see the local delicacy, Polkagris, being made. Polkagris are fat candy canes still made by hand in several small shops. They now come in multiple flavors and the traditional peppermint. The candy cane may have originated here, or at least that's what local people say, but even if it's not true, they have perfected it. 

We then traveled by ferry to Visingsö island, a long, narrow island in the middle of the lake   There are 742 permanent residents. It's a tourist area in the summer, but quite rustic, no hotels, just cottages. Or people do day trips. There are also very few cars. 

 Cottages on Visingsö island

We rented bikes and went off to our 3 destinations. One was Annero, the old age home on the island.  The island's population is old, and people want to stay here, even when they can no longer live alone. Annero Is a small, 18 person facility, with 17 people currently living there. Residents have a wide range of needs, from mostly independent to severe dementia. They have known each other most or all of their lives. The staff, some of whom are also long-time residents of the island, say that knowing one another helps residents accept the people who have greater disabilities. Even when the facility is full, people on the island who need to move from home will wait for an opening, rather than go off the island. 

Like the other facilities, each resident has his or her own apartment, either in the main building, or in lovely cottages in a park-like setting behind the main building. The staff is small, 3 persons during the day and two overnight (though one sleeps unless there is a problem). There is also a nurse during the day who takes care of residents' needs as well as seeing island residents. A doctor comes from the mainland once a week.  In case of a medical emergency, the person is taken by ferry or by a private boat to Grana, and from there by ambulance to Jönköping. 

The facility also serves as the base for home help on the island who visit people at home. Meals also get delivered to some island residents and some come in to Annero for lunch. 

It would be easy to say that this facility is too small and does not have medical care on hand, and so should be closed. But this is where people on the island want to live out their lives. And the municipality makes that possible. 

The literal high point of the day is our visit to a 1,000 year old stone church on the island. To pass the course, students must climb the church tower. It's a narrow, steep ascent, but everyone made it up and was rewarded with beautiful views of the island and lake. Everyone made it down, too, I think. 

Then the actual highlight, dinner at a restaurant on the island. The restaurant opened just for us, thanks to the class organizer, Sussie Jojannesson. We had salmon baked in a casserole lined with mashed potatoes, followed by a flourless chocolate cake with ice cream and the most delicious strawberries. 

Stockholm next

We go to Stockholm on Friday. We will hold a discussion of all we have seen and done, as well as visit the sites in that beautiful city. I'll do a wrap-up post of what we learned and how it can inform what we do in the US. 

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