Fairfield, Conn. (WTNH) - Every 69 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in this country. As baby boomers start coming into their golden years, there will be a huge need for elderly housing.
For 38 years the not-for-profit Jewish Home for the Elderly has been an institution in Fairfield. It is now the second largest nursing home in the state, with 360 live-in residents -- many with dementia -- and hundreds more who get services outside the facility every day. But soon, words like 'institution' and 'facility' may no longer be used to describe senior living.
In 2008, a bill for a pilot program for small house nursing homes was passed in Connecticut. The Jewish Home for the Elderly is the pilot site.
"The idea is to rebuild around a smaller 10-14 bed household where each individual has a private room, private bedroom," explained Andrew Banoff, president and CEO of The Jewish Home.
The traditional nursing station will go away. There is a shared kitchen, dining room, living room, patio; all to foster more socialization which has been proven to help seniors flourish.
"People that get to know each other where staff is empowered to really work with them, live with them, eat with them, and really embrace them," Banoff said.
"We can be more of a family, letting them help us cook or make a pot of tea, bake brownies," said Cathleen Barker-Bryk, RN.
The Jewish Home is waiting for zoning approval for a new building site in Bridgeport. Groundbreaking won't happen for another few years. In this time when a number of nursing homes in this state have been forced to close, diversifying may be one way homes can survive.
"Reducing our reliance on government sources of funding and bring in other payment sources and new programs, new revenues, is enabling us to be as stable as possible," Banoff said.
Banoff says it's a re-balancing of the same costs, with more money being directed to hands-on caregiving, something that will put family members minds at ease.
"Basic concept is to keep it home, their home, our home," Barker-Bryk said.
Talking about diversifying, the Jewish home tries to add one service every year. They plan to add assisted living when they move to the new site.
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