Geriatric Medicine and Care
"Haven for the Aged - 75 Years of Kuakini Home"
“Lucky people like us have a place like Kuakini Home in which we can stay, because my arthritis is so bad I can’t take care of myself.”
- Mrs. “O”, Kuakini Home Resident, April, 1980
When Kuakini Home opened its doors on May 22, 1932, it was one of the first elderly care homes in Hawaii and the United States.
No one at the time gave that accomplishment much thought because Kuakini Home was built to meet a pressing community need - to provide care, food and shelter to the growing population of elderly Japanese men who had immigrated to Hawaii 40 years earlier to work on the plantations.
Since these men had no families of their own or support systems, Kuakini provided care to these men in its hospital wards until residential cottages for the elderly were built on the Kuakini campus in 1927. When demand for this residential care service became too great, a territorial-wide fundraising campaign was launched by the community to raise the $32,500 needed to build Kuakini Home.
The new facility, located at the makai-ewa corner of the campus offered barracks-style sleeping accommodations, a dining room, a Japanese style furo (bath), and a stage for visiting entertainers. Prior to World War II, Kuakini Home had an average census of 40 to 50 residents. Most of the residents stayed at Kuakini Home for many years, generally until their health conditions warranted transfers to facilities providing higher levels of care.
“There was a man who lived at Kuakini Home for 27 years and 4 months. The next longest in terms of years was a man who resided at Kuakini Home for 24 years and 2 months,” said former Kuakini Home Director Sadao Miyashiro in a 1981 interview. “Kuakini Home was able to take care of about 700 residents in the 48 years of its existence at the old (original) facility.”
During World War II, one of the Kuakini Home buildings was taken over by the U.S. Army and the Kuakini Home census dropped to an average of about 28 residents. The Kuakini Hospital School of Nursing took over the building in 1945 after the U.S. Army left the Kuakini campus. The Kuakini Hospital School of Nursing was discontinued in 1955 and Kuakini Home was able to increase its bed capacity back to 50 beds.
When Sadao Miyashiro became Kuakini Home’s first Director in 1949, the Kuakini Home staff consisted of four people: a director, cook, attendant and yardman. These four staff members were expected to do all the cleaning, laundry and accounting in addition to providing care for the residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More staff was added in July 1954 when the 40-hour work week was standardized for all Kuakini employees. By 1966, Kuakini Home had a staff of 11 employees.
Over the years, Kuakini Home residents have participated in a variety of activities including citizenship classes, picnics at the beach, trips to scenic spots, boat rides, bowling excursions, horseshoe pitching, croquet, indoor games (cards, chess, checkers go), and arts and crafts ‑ ceramics, beading, gardening, basket weaving and woodwork.
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