Retirement communities to feel more like home
At least three offer household models similar to The Green House.by Serena Townsend
Mennonite retirement homes are starting to take a more community-based approach to make their facilities feel like home.
For Mennonite Home Communities of (Bluffton) Ohio (MHCO) and Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), Harrisonburg, Va., this means implementing The Green House model. In this model, six to 10 residents live together in a house designed for each to have their own bedroom and bath.
From left: two residents of Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, a bank representative and MHCO board president plant a tulip bulb at the ground blessing ceremony on Oct. 14, 2011. Photo by Fred Steiner.
Residents have easy access to a living room, kitchen, dining area and garden. While they receive licensed nursing care, residents are not restricted to a tight schedule.
“It is not an institution, it is a home,” says Doug Luginbill, the director of resource development at MHCO.
Two homes located on the new Willow Ridge campus of MHCO are scheduled to open in November.
Luginbill says he believes that The Green House Project fits well with the philosophy of MHCO and says all their nursing care may eventually be provided using this model.
VMRC has plans for up to 10 Green House homes in its new Woodland Park neighborhood, where three houses will be completed in December.
“Feedback from VMRC residents and family members indicated that traditional nursing home environments were not places elders looked forward to living,” says Ronald Yoder, president and CEO, as quoted in an article by Maureen Pearson.
In the same light, an article about Garden Spot Village, New Holland, Pa., in the spring edition of Destination says that “a hospital might be a nice place to visit when you’re sick, but who would want to live there?”
The retirement community in 2009 acquired Maple Farm—previously owned and operated by Lancaster General Hospital. Maple Farm will implement a similar household model to that of Green House. Households have been in place at Garden Spot for five years. The first household is now occupied, and a second will be completed this winter.
Garden Spot Village also plans to develop 44 urban lofts for seniors 55 and over in The Lancaster (Pa.) Press Building. Originally built in 1907 as a cigar factory, the building was bought by Lancaster Press for the publication of medical journals but has been sitting unused for over 20 years.
“We took what was existing here and made the best use of it,” says Logan Patterson, liaison for The Lancaster Press Building.
Once deposits have been made on 33 of the apartments, construction will commence on all 44 lofts and should be completed within a year. Ideas for the first floor include an upscale restaurant, retail space and continuing education.
Another former cigar factory in Lancaster will also be given new purpose. In June, Landis Communities, Lititz, Pa., in partnership with Zamagias Properties, plans to begin construction on Steeple View Lofts.
This urban-living option includes 36 rental apartments for adults 55 and over, says Larry Guengerich, director of communications and church relations for Landis Communities.
Possible tenants for the first floor include Landis at Home, a pastry style café, an art gallery or other businesses that would appeal to both Steeple View Loft residents and the broader community.
Over many years the building was a flour and feed warehouse, cigar factory, umbrella-handle factory, padlock factory and gold- and silver-plating business.
“This building is in great shape and is sitting empty,” says Guengerich. “By bringing it back into use and creating a community in the building, we are not only providing an option for those over 55 but are helping keep downtown Lancaster a growing and vital place.”—Serena Townsend, intern for The Mennonite during this spring semester
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