All the pieces are in place for MapleCreek CCRC residents

July 10, 2009
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Lutheran Social Services of Michigan has turned the former site of a county poor farm into its largest community for senior citizens in the state.

MapleCreek, located on 40 acres along 32nd Street between Breton and Kalamazoo avenues in Grand Rapids, is LSSM’s largest program for older adults, Executive Director Susan Lemon said.

A $30 million investment into renovations and expansion has transformed the campus from studio apartments and a nursing home into a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Offerings run the spectrum of adult services, from independent living in The Cottages and the Terraces at MapleCreek, to assisted living at The Woods at MapleCreek and skilled nursing and rehabilitation at The Lodge at MapleCreek.

The organization also offers home health care to about 200 people each day under the name MapleCreek At Home.

Lemon said the changes were made to accommodate the needs and wishes of older consumers, who today are more active, even though they are older when they enter specialized housing.

Back in the 1970s, LSSM purchased the land, which had fallen into bankruptcy, and built 225 studio apartments known as a Luther Village. “It was pretty forward for its time … for active senior living,” Lemon said. “It actually had a very, I think, young population, looking at life expectancy changes and people not staying in their home when they started to age.”

In the mid-1980s, the organization moved its nursing home, Luther Home, to the site, she said. In the next decade, Luther Woods was added for assisted living and the home health care unit was launched.

Changes in the market and expectations of today’s seniors drove the changes at the campus, she said. But since then, the market has shifted.

“Over the years, we’ve seen an older and older clientele. Over the years, it became more heavily assisted living as people aged in place,” she said.

Today, people want to stay in their homes longer, and have different expectations for amenities and services available when they choose to enter a senior living community, Lemon said. The entry fee investments people are asked to make to enter the CCRC range from $35,000 to as much as $199,500, depending on their choice of living arrangements, she said. Half of that may be refundable if the resident moves or other changes are made.

“Our physical plant was starting to age here on this site, and we decided to stay here in Grand Rapids because we have been part of this community since the mid-1970s, at this site. It’s a beautiful site, close to shopping, and a mature neighborhood here in Grand Rapids. So we decided to renovate.”

But, like a lot of remodeling projects, one thing led to the next. “We decided we really needed to do an overhaul of the entire campus, if we were to offer what seniors today are looking for, which is a more active lifestyle, options and flexibility in their amenities,” Lemon said.

“We are able to offer a full continuum of care on one site. The one piece we were missing was true independent living.”

The Cottages are new, condominium-style residences nestled in the woods for independent living. Currently, 11 of the 33 planned units have been built, Lemon said.

Luther Village has been remodeled into The Terraces, an independent living building that now includes 171 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The Woods at MapleCreek provides assisted living and includes care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The Woods’ capacity is 61, Lemon said.

The skilled nursing facility, once known as Luther Home, is now The Lodge at Maple Creek and offers 125 beds.

Program design also has changed, Lemon said. For  instance, gone is cafeteria-style dining by tray and in are several smaller restaurant-style corners where residents can watch their food being made and have access to snacks around the clock.

“People are staying in their homes longer than they ever did before,” Lemon said. “We have folks who want to travel, and they know they can just pick up and go and don’t have to worry about anything at home while they are gone. They get socialization here, lots of programs, outings and community events they can tap into and meet new friends.”

MapleCreek employs between 450 and 500 people, Lemon added.

LSSM has more than 70 programs in the Lower Peninsula, such as foster care, adoption, subsidized housing, community centers, and helping refugees and the disabled. For senior citizens, it has independent living and services for the disabled in Cadillac, Saginaw, Detroit, Bloomfield Hills and Traverse City.

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