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New senior facility offers ‘household-like’ living
Cottages of UnityPoint Way brings to Cedar Rapids a method that has helped dementia patients
CEDAR RAPIDS — A new senior living facility going up in Cedar Rapids uses a “household-like” model of care that has resulted in good outcomes for residents with dementia, officials behind the project say.
Officials broke ground this past week on the Cottages of UnityPoint Way, a new joint project between UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls-based senior living company Western Home Services.
The $25 million project, at 8405 Council St. NE in Cedar Rapids, will consist of three memory care and dementia care cottages with 16 to 20 units each. The free-standing facilities are secure, homelike settings that include a common area as well as a private bedroom and bathroom for each resident.
Kris Hansen, chief executive officer of Western Home Services, said staff and residents function as members of the same household, setting their own schedules and participating in the facility to the degree they are able.
Western Home Services has employed this model within its own facilities across the state since 2015.
Q: When is the Cottages of UnityPoint Way scheduled to complete construction?
A: “With supply chain challenges, I think we ought to be done in the spring 2023. Residents should be able to move in by the summer 2023.”
Q: What’s the difference in the three cottages?
A: “There will be 16 units in the memory care cottage that’s certified to provide nursing care as a (dementia care) unit. We’ll have another memory support, but it’ll be assisted living certified for 20 apartments, and then another 20 apartments of regular assisted living without a memory focus.”
Q: Can you explain a bit how this model works?
A: Hansen said the Cottages look like a home in that each resident has their own private bathroom, but the common area is made up of a kitchen, dining area and other spaces where residents can spend time.
Wendy Ager, director of skilled nursing at Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls, said residents also can operate on their own schedule, much like they would if they were still living at home.
“What we do for people shouldn’t be the focus of the day,” Hansen said. “My day doesn’t revolve around when I take my pills or when I take my shower, and their lives shouldn’t revolve around that either. I think that's when things really took off for us (at Western Home Services).”
Q: What outcomes have you seen in residents since you started using this model in 2015?
A: “The first year we did a study,” Ager said. “That first year we saw that people’s mood improved and we saw less depressive symptoms. The length of stay there is really longer than most nursing homes in Iowa. We also don’t see that stair step decline in residents, where someone has a negative outcome and then they stabilize. People here stay at the same level for a long time, with a slow decline. That helps families because they can be involved a lot longer and have those conversations awhile longer.”
Q: Why did you decide to work with UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids on this project?
A: “The main reason we’re there is that partnership with UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, and also the complementary services from the St. Luke’s Transitional Care Center (a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility at 8405 Council St. NE),” Hansen said. “We think there’s some real opportunity for some synchronicity and efficiencies by working more as a whole continuum of care. So that’s what we’re excited about, taking our place inside of that full continuum.”
Q: Health care facilities across Iowa are struggling right now to recruit and retain an adequate workforce. What is your organization doing to offset that ahead of the Cottages opening?
A: “In the middle of a pandemic — hopefully we’re trending toward the end of it — but with a pandemic going on, workforce challenges are going to continue,” Hansen said.
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