HOMER GLEN, ILL. (Friday, October 25, 2013) – State Representative Jim Durkin’s visit to the construction site of Victorian Village Health & Wellness Center gave him a firsthand look at the future of senior healthcare. The Center is the first “small house” in Illinois, a model of care that requires a whole new approach to caregiving, schedules, meals, and staffing. In fact, last month, Victorian Village leadership participated in several days of specialized training in how to deliver care in a “small house” setting.
As Ray Hemphill, Executive Vice President of Project Development, explained, “This is a new concept, it’s the first one in Illinois, so at every step in the licensure process there was a lot of education that had to happen. We had to explain how we were still upholding regulations — but in new ways.”
Two main differences between a small house and a traditional skilled nursing facility are (1) universal workers and (2) the open kitchen. The “universal worker” model trains and empowers staff to perform all the duties of the house except for nursing. So, for example, a small house CNA might help residents get dressed in the morning, then throw a load of laundry in, then empty the trash cans, and then lead a group discussion about the day’s menu.
The open kitchen contributes to the home-like atmosphere in a small house and allows residents to participate in familiar tasks such as setting the table, serving the meal, and washing the dishes. And the small house track record in other states has shown that the open kitchen concept poses no additional danger for residents and helps build collaboration and community.
In fact, small house residents are encouraged to participate in the life of the house to whatever extent they are able — helping with housekeeping, working in the garden, making decisions about outings, and more. Such involvement gives people a sense of purpose and value, while exercising cognitive and motor skills.
In spite of the differences, skilled nursing regulations will still be met. The campus will be staffed with a dedicated Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with multiple RNs staffing all three buildings most of the time.
“It’s a whole new way of delivering care,” says Ray Hemphill, “and it’s actually more effective and more home-like. If I had had a choice where my mom could live when she started needing help, this is what I’d want.”
“It’s great that you guys do this,” said Representative Durkin, whose own parents recently made the transition into a retirement community. “I appreciate what you are doing. Once it’s open I want to come back and see how it looks.”
The Victorian Village Health & Wellness Center is scheduled to open in 2014. For more information about the project, contact Dave Tiemersma, Administrator, at (708) 301-0800.
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Victorian Village and the Victorian Village Health & Wellness Center are Providence Life Services communities located at 12600 Renaissance Circle in Homer Glen, Illinois. Call (708) 301-0800 for more information or to request a tour.