JIMTOWN — Motorists driving south of Elkhart on Ind. 19 can’t miss seeing a large construction project on the west side of the road.
The building going up at 28070 C.R. 24 is a new memory care center that is being added to the Hubbard Hill Retirement Community. Next June, 36 people who have dementia will become the first residents of the building.
“It (memory care) is very central to our mission,” said Patrick Pingel, chief executive officer, explaining Hubbard Hill is a nonprofit organization with ties to the Missionary Church.
He said Hubbard Hill currently has about 280 residents.
“About 75 percent of the folks have diagnosed or undiagnosed dementia. That is our life, that is who we are dealing with,” he said.
The Hubbard Hill board is committing $14 million to a three-phase expansion, which includes 18 new apartments, rehabilitation services and the memory care building.
“It was really a mission decision, a big one," Pingel said. “We are a nonprofit, faith-based organization, so we put our profits back into the mission. This is one of those major stepping out moments.”
He explained that the goal at Hubbard is to provide a full continuum of care for senior citizens.
The memory care center is being constructed around a large conservatory. The conservatory will give residents round-the-clock access to an outdoor-type environment that they likely were used to when they owned a home, the staff said during a press tour Thursday morning.
“We engaged every part of design to make this a place that feels like home to them and feels safe,” said Darla Aldred of Arkos Design. She is the landscape architect who helped develop the conservatory concept for Hubbard Hill.
The conservatory is tall enough and large enough to house full-sized trees, but Aldred said that possibility is still being looked at. It’s more likely replica trees will be used, she said.
What the warm, sunny space will have is a backyard feel.
“We want to make sure it feels like a landscape they grew up with, that they had in their backyard," Aldred said.
To mimic seasonal changes, Aldred said the conservatory’s temperature will drop to around 60 during winter months and may be as high as 90 in the summer.
The walls of the residences facing the conservatory will look like the backs of homes. There will be patios like those that commonly dot suburban areas. Even a red garden shed with white trim will included.
STORY OF CHANGE
Barb Kauffman has an unusual job title at Hubbard Hill. It’s strategic storytelling.
And the story she has to tell is one of watching her mother, who had dementia, experience care Kauffman feels was inadequate.
“I had a family member who went on this journey,” Kauffman said. “And it was not pleasant.”
Her mother had been a resident of Hubbard Hill and then became a resident at a South Bend-area facility.
“It was a horrible experience,” she said of her mother’s last months.
Kauffman said the Hubbard Hill board began working on its facility for improved memory care five or six years ago.
“They studied it,” she said.
The board looked at the care given dementia patients in Amsterdam and consulted with a biophilic expert from Yale before the care facility was designed.
“The strategy is, my day my way,” she said about giving residents leeway in their daily routines.
“Now there are no places like that,” Kauffman said.
“There is a need for a different kind of memory care than traditionally what has been put out there,” said Debbie Carriveau, executive director of the memory care center. “We know the numbers are growing tremendously over the next few years. There is somewhere around 5 million right now in the United States. They anticipate that will jump to 16 million by the year 2050.”
Care for that many people with dementia means there will also be a growing need for specialized staff at care centers, she said.
“We need to have a higher staff ratio,” Carriveau said.
The goal of the staff at the new center will be allow residents to have many freedoms, including going out to the conservatory at any hour.
“They have a much different sense of reality than the rest of us,” Carriveau said of dementia patients. “This community is very much designed to embrace where they are at, to make that the norm and the rest of us adapt to them.”
COST OF CARE
Cost for the dementia care at the new center has not be finalized, according to Pingel. He added that dementia care is expensive, but he expects that the price will be competitive with other alternatives families may have when it comes to carrying for loved ones struggling with dementia.
“It is our experience that folks who suffer any form of dementia that it is extraordinary hard for them to have alternative care in their home and other settings because of the safety concerns. So this makes something like this much more economical for folks.”
Roger Schneider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 309. Follow Roger on Facebook and also on Twitter @rschneider_TGN