⊕UC seeing senior living building boom

The Cottages exterior
The Cottages is nearing completion in Overton County.

LIVINGSTON – Scott Stevens says a pending addition at Overton County Health and Rehab will be nothing like what people are used to seeing: a 180 from the typical nursing home environment, completely non-institutional and with more natural world appeal.

That may be true – the facility’s incorporating a “greenhouse” concept that’s few and far between in the state – but in terms of pure expansion, the Livingston facility is far from alone.

The Upper Cumberland, it seems, is in the midst of a senior-living building blitz. Several regional facilities are renovating, upgrading or otherwise making room for an expected influx of baby boomers, and leaders say those seniors have much different expectations than those who came before.

Besides Overton County Health and Rehab, Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill, Heritage Pointe Senior Living in Cookeville and Dominion Senior Living in Crossville are all planning or completing projects that will cater to retirees.

Uplands, a continuing care retirement community, for example, has two projects underway: one, a renovation of a mothballed building that will pave the way for 31 additional private rooms, among other amenities. The other, a new build, is for an aquatic therapy center, an item that’s long been on the center’s wish list. Both are scheduled to be complete next year. Richard Woodard, Uplands Village executive director, said the moves are largely spurred a new generation of seniors – a generation that expects more and better housing options, amenities and activities.

“It’s all market demand,” Woodard said. “Quite frankly, I’ve been doing this for 25-plus years, and who has been my traditional customer, if you will, that World War II, Depression-era retiree, that number is shrinking rapidly. As we start looking at the baby boomers coming, they have very different expectations. Our residents are expecting private rooms, they expect all the technologies, they expect the therapies to be the best of the best.”


Of all the projects currently underway, Overton County Health & Rehab’s, which is being dubbed The Cottages, arguably has the most legs – it was first approved by the state back in 2012, and it’s completion deadline has been extended three times since; the recent request was made in August.

The Cottages interior
The Cottages feature a laundrymat and verandas, libraries and more.

But Stevens – in one of the very first interviews granted about the project – expects the first residents to move in soon. The Cottages, while still considered long-term nursing, follow
a “greenhouse” model, which is more intimate, warm and technologically advanced than a traditional senior housing setting. The Cottages feature 30 beds in all, split equally between two independent “neighborhoods.” All rooms are private. There’s plenty of sunlight, plants and garden/outdoor areas.

“It’s just a 180 of what we have now,” Stevens said. “You don’t see nurse’s stations; you don’t have med carts going up and down the hallway. You don’t have linen people in and out of your room every two hours.

“This is how it should be, and the way we’ve been doing it is wrong and it’s backward,” he added. “From a clinical standpoint, we’ve always provided good health care. But now we’re trying to provide a place for people to live and to thrive.”

The Cottages, culturally, will utilize the Eden Alternative, an approach that Uplands Village, Standing Stone Care and Rehabilitation in Monterey, Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center in Byrdstown, and Signature Healthcare of Fentress County in Jamestown use as well. Caregivers and residents are considered equals, and Stevens said they particularly work to eliminate boredom, loneliness and helplessness.

The Cottages will offer 24-hour nursing. Each neighborhood has its own kitchen and chef. There’s a laundrymat and verandas, libraries and more. Because rates are set by Medicare, fees are the same as the existing 160-bed facility – where Stevens hopes to carry over at least some of the changes.

“What I’m most excited about is getting the Eden Alternative going in our existing facility and taking out as much institution as we can,” he said. “I know you can’t do as much as a greenhouse style, but we can still do a lot, and we have already began that.”

Construction is ongoing at Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill. UCBJ Photo/Cassey Spakes
Construction is ongoing at Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill. UCBJ Photo/Cassey Spakes

Uplands Village, meanwhile, is unique in its own right; as a continued care retirement community, there are several levels of accommodations in one setting. The complex spans more than 500 acres. It offers 160 homes and duplexes for independent living; traditional assisted living, licensed at 62 rooms; and a 62-bed nursing home facility. On site, there’s services like 24/7 care – Uplands offers its own CNA, certified nursing assistant training – transportation and more.

New, expected in February 2016, will be a year-round aquatic therapy center. It will feature two pools, a 20-by-60 foot saltwater lap pool and a saltwater therapy pool, as well as a hot tub. Officials at Uplands are also in the midst of a more than $5 million gut and renovation of a building that’s been closed since 2010.

They’re moving half of the facility’s 62 nursing beds there; overall, it will house 31 private resident rooms; a state-of-the-art gym for physical, occupational and speech therapy; a wellness gym; kitchen and dining space; and a 16-bay integrated computer lab. Woodard said that is slated for completion in April.

“As we open the renovated building, the space we’re vacating and the beds we’re moving out, we will convert that into a 22-bed Alzheimer’s assisted living facility to expand our continuing care on campus,” he said.

Alzheimer’s and dementia care will also be a major focus at a pending facility in nearby Crossville. Dominion Senior Living broke ground in early summer on its $5.25 million, 25,000-square-foot assisted living facility. Dominion expects to be up and running by the second quarter 2016, and the community will be licensed to provide care for 60 residents. And Heritage Pointe Senior Living in Cookeville is in the process of purchasing additional property for an expansion of its operation.

At Overton County Health & Rehab, Stevens can’t wait to show off their finished product.

“We could have put 100 beds in that building, instead of 30, but you’re just going to have another institution,” Stevens said. “It takes people with vision to stand up to board members and the community – because we had to sell this; not everyone was on board – but now they see the difference. I would say it’s going to be the new standard in long-term health care, and you’re going to see more and more of it.”

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