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Carter-May Living:

By Theresa Stratford

Carter-May Senior Living Home

A Catholic Home That’s Open to All

On any given day, residents of Carter-May Senior Living Home could be enjoying a game of bingo, dancing or painting their latest masterpiece. At South Carolina’s only Catholic assisted living facility, you might also catch them praying with priests and women religious, some of whom might live there.

Janine Bauder, administrator for the home, said that one of the misconceptions, however, is that only retired priests and nuns live there. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, not only do Catholic seniors live there, but people from many other faiths also call Carter-May home.

“We are open to everyone,” she said. “The majority are Catholic and we are happy to say that we do have some priests and nuns in retirement here, but that is certainly not all. We actually have very diverse residents of all faiths.”

Currently, 21 seniors reside at the assisted-living facility. Janine said that their youngest is 67 years old and their oldest is 100. She also said that having resident priests is one of the nicest aspects about living there.

“Many of them will say Mass in our chapel. It is great because they can continue their ministry,” she said.

Located on Ingram Road in the West Ashley area of Charleston, the facility used to be a convent. “That is why we have a nice chapel,” Janine added.

The building was much smaller prior to 2002, when they underwent extensive renovations, including adding more rooms and a wing for lay seniors.

Carter-May Senior Living Home actually dates back to 1929, when it was located downtown next to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Broad Street. Janine said they moved to different locations throughout the years until they found their permanent location in West Ashley in the 1970s.

She said they currently have a waiting list for some of the specific rooms and there is a waiting list for seniors needing state assistance. They have a capacity of 25 residents when spouses share a room.

Janine explained how the pandemic changed their way of life.

“At first, I thought it wouldn’t be so bad and that it would be fine to get through, but as time dragged on, I started realizing how bad it really was,” she remembered. “Many of our residents experienced depression during that time. It was hard because we had to keep socially distant, and [seniors] really depend on that interaction.”

She said that many were experiencing loss already — of family and friends, of their home — and then the loss of social interaction. To get through that time, Janine said they had many activities that residents could do individually, like puzzles and painting.

They would also take some residents on rides in the van, socially distanced and masked of course, to pass the time.

“We would ride around and sightsee, just to get them out and about,” she added.

All in all, they fared well. Janine said they only had one resident who had to be hospitalized with COVID.

“I think one of the hardest aspects during that time was adhering to all the changing regulations as well,” she said.

Luckily, life is now getting somewhat back to normal. They recently had a visitor bring baby goats to meet with the residents.

“They loved it. It was so sweet to watch,” she said.

The residents also tend the garden at the back of the facility and some of the plants on the front porch.

Janine admitted the best part about Carter-May for her as the administrator is seeing how much the residents care for one another.

“Two ladies with memory loss like to sit by each other at the table, and today I saw one reach for the other woman’s hand and say, ‘How are you doing today?’ They really care for each other,” she said.


Theresa Stratford is a freelance reporter for The Catholic Miscellany. Email her at tmmart89@gmail.com.