By Kristine Meggenberg
Special to The Sun
A $55 million renovation and expansion is under way at Epworth Villa retirement community, leading the way in cultural change on how to provide service to residents and employees at a nursing home.
In 2010 Epworth Villa, at 14901 N. Pennsylvania in Oklahoma City, wanted to do a renovation and expansion from the perspective of the resident.
“To age more successfully we have to nurture the mind, the body and the spirit,” said John Harned, Epworth Villa CEO since 2010.
Epworth Villa broke ground for the renovation in December 2012 that will include 118 assisted living apartments and 36 independent living two-bedroom apartment homes on campus. There is a waiting list for the assisted living apartments that are expected to move residents in from February to July 2014 and only eight independent living apartments still available for move-in this November.
Mercy Health has partnered with Epworth Villa to have a clinic on its campus. The Mercy clinic employs a nurse practitioner, a physician and an LPN. Their schedules at the clinic vary but staff are on-call 24/7. The clinic also treats the employees of Epworth Villa, where there is no co-pay, and has hopes of adding a pharmacy that will serve residents and employees.
“One of our values is, or what drives a lot of decisions is healthy living and that pertains to the residents as well as the employees. We talked about the mind, body and spirit but spirit is really socialization and people think that holding on to your house with white knuckles is successful aging but that isolation can be detrimental to successful aging,” Harned said.
The new renovation will include a Town Center that will foster an environment where residents can be social and independent. The Town Center will have a Main Street feel that will include a movie theater, classrooms for continuing education and college courses, an aquatic center, fitness rooms, salon, day spa, a post office, convenience store and three restaurants. The three restaurants will include a café, a bistro and the Red Bud Restaurant. The residents can choose where they want to eat as there is no assigned seating. Residents can call a friend on campus or invite friends and family off campus.
The administration of Epworth Villa is emphasizing the facility’s affordability.
“Once they do move in they have increased quality of life and have the opportunity to level load their expenses into the higher levels of care. So once you move into independent living, with inflation, they will pay that same amount through assisted or memory or long-term care and that’s called a Lifecare contract. So what it’s doing is front loading some of that expense but they can minimize it on their tax return as a prepaid health care expense. Bottom line we have options that are affordable,” Harned said.
A tsunami of baby boomers are headed for retirement living and it is changing the concept of senior living. Baby boomers are not looking for real estate, they are looking for choices, financial peace of mind and taking the pressure of decision making off other families while still maintaining a lifestyle, Harned said. Baby boomers want immediacy, knowing they can go on a vacation while maintaining security back home. Epworth wants to tackle the new generation’s needs while they transition into the next chapter of their lives.
“We want to address the needs of elders and give them purpose, so when we can give purpose to an individual in independent living good for us but when we help an individual find their purpose all the way through their continuum that’s when I think we are really achieving our mission in ministry” Harned said.
Living options at Epworth Villa include independent-living cottages and apartments, traditional assisted living apartments, memory care assisted living, long-term care nursing and in-patient rehabilitation services. When the expansions and renovations are completed next year it will create 50 new permanent positions. There are currently 400 residents at the nonprofit retirement community but after the renovations it will be home to 525 retirees.
FOR MORE information about Epworth Villa, visit www.epworthvilla.com.