November 20, 2003


Friends Care plans for future

Friends Care Community is planning ahead for its next 10 years and administrators and board members want current and former Yellow Springs residents to let them know what they need. As a first step, FCC distributed last week a survey in the Yellow Springs News asking for feedback.

“ What was basically a 10-year plan is now ending and it’s time to look at the next phase,” FCC Administrator Jeff Singleton said in an interview Monday. “We’re trying to get some input from the community as to what people think.”

The survey asks respondents if they see a need for an expansion of the Friends Care Assisted Living Center, for senior rental apartments, for an adult day-care program at the Friends Extended Care Facility or for a senior community building that includes a wellness center. The survey also asks if respondents desire extended services in home health care, Meals on Wheels or other home assistance services.

FCC organizers hope those who respond to the survey will not confine themselves to yes or no answers, and will instead expand on their ideas or offer other suggestions.

“ There is no limit to what could be done,” said Henning Von Gierke, chairman of the FCC Long Range Planning Committee.

Begun in 1979 under the auspices of the Yellow Springs Friends Meeting after an extensive community fundraising effort, Friends Care Community has gone through several transformations. Originally a 50-bed nursing home, FCC later added 16 more beds to its nursing home facility, now called the Extended Care Facility. In the late 1990s the FCC added the Assisted Living Center for elders who needed some assistance but did not need the level of care provided by a nursing home. That 20-bed facility is now full, Singleton said.

Two years ago Friends Care opened its Independent Living Community, duplex condominiums for those who can live on their own but want freedom from yard and maintenance chores. Two units, with two duplexes each, have been completed, and a third unit is scheduled to be completed in March, Singleton said.

Friends Care’s most recent renovation was a multi-year, $2 million project that included an expansion of the Extended Care Facility’s dining room, the addition of a classroom to house a local Head Start program and a doubling of the center’s greenhouse space. The Extended Care Facility also received an overall “facelift,” said Singleton. The changes included room renovations, new lighting, new furniture and new window treatments, all aimed at creating a more homey, less institutional look and feel to the facility, he said.

Now that the renovation is coming to a close, FCC hopes to find new ways to serve the community, Singleton said.

One way to serve Yellow Springs, Singleton said, might be to build apartments for seniors, probably located on land Friends Care purchased two years ago, on the corner of Allen and Livermore Streets, the former Nosker property. The purchase was made possible by a donation from an anonymous donor, he said.

Apartments for seniors could benefit those who desire FCC community living but who can’t afford to buy their own home.

“ There’s no doubt that the assisted living and independent living units can be cost prohibitive,” Singleton said.

Expansion of the current nursing home or the Assisted Living Center seems a less likely alternative, said Singleton, who noted that about 65 to 70 percent of residents of both facilities are from Yellow Springs.

However, Von Gierke said the FCC is considering the construction of a community building to be used by residents of the assisted living and independent living units as well as community members. A senior community building might include a wellness center with a fitness room or small pool, along with meeting rooms, hobby rooms and areas where FCC residents can entertain friends and family members, he said.

A priority for Friends Care is to find ways to work with the Yellow Springs Senior Center to better serve local seniors who are living in their own homes, Singleton said. The two organizations already work together with the FCC Home Assistance Program, which is headed by Andrée Bognár and housed in the Senior Center, and are currently coordinating transportation needs, aided by grants from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation.

Two previously conducted local surveys by marketing firms found that most local residents would prefer to live in their own homes as long as possible, and seek services that would help them do so, Von Gierke said.

The community seems interested in the survey distributed last week, Singleton said, noting that by Monday 10 people had already turned in their surveys and others stopped him on the street to offer ideas.

Members of the Long Range Planning Committee are Von Gierke, Harold Putnam, Alex Roche, Ron Schmidt and Paul Webb. More community members will be added when subcommittees are created, Von Gierke said.

— Diane Chiddister