Friends Care Center just like home

Jessica Graue Assistant Managing Editor

January 4, 2014

YELLOW SPRINGS — A local senior care center wants the county to know that it has a lot more to offer than the average nursing home.

Friends Care Community in Yellow Springs has made some changes in the last couple years that make it a place not only for long-term care, but also for assisted living, independent living and rehabilitation services.

The original idea for a nursing home in Yellow Springs originated with Arthur Morgan in the 1960s. Morgan, former president of Antioch College and prominent community leader, was instrumental in the establishment of the Senior Citizen’s Center and felt strongly that the village should have a nursing home. The center opened in August 1980 as a 50-bed skilled extended care facility.

Over the years, the center has grown tremendously adding additional rooms, activities and most recently, a new rehabilitation center. The $2.25 million rehab center opened in October of 2011.

The new rehab center contains 16 private rooms, each with its own bathroom as well as large walk-in closets. Two common areas with a cafe were also added. The lounge was created specifically so those receiving care could have a private place to visit with family and other residents.

“We try to create an environment where there’s a lot of opportunity for socialization and for people to be able to get out of their rooms and also have areas where they can sit and have conversations,” said Executive Director Karl Zalar.

The main focus of the rehab unit is for seniors to be able to get the help they need and then be able to go back home. It is used by many who have had a surgery from which they are recovering. The unit includes a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, which are all used to help seniors get used to how things will be when they get home. Short-term care is the main focal point as well as occupational and speech therapies.

“In the last two years there’s been a huge emphasis on getting people back into their homes. The therapy is geared toward trying to make them safe in their homes. The majority of the people go home from the rehab center. We wanted a convenient place for outpatient services as well,” said Zalar.

According to Becky Baker, director or admissions and marketing, 104 people returned home after their rehab stay in 2013. Zalar said they went from 40 visits at the rehab unit to around 90-100 visits because they now offer the outpatient services.

Outpatient services are for not just residents, but those in the community who need a place to recover from a surgery or injury. The center has a separate entrance, so those who are just coming for a short period of time do not have to walk through the entire facility.

Beyond rehab and outpatient services, the unit is also used by long-term residents in order to keep them functional. The staff really focuses on making the whole center have a homey feel to it and they are seeing a lot of success.

“We took a hallway and closed it down and made this a distinct unit. It’s for people who have had a hip surgery or pneumonia, and we are seeing a lot of success. One person called it the best kept secret. Another person said it’s like going to the Hilton. We’ve also had many people return,” said Baker.

Upcoming, the center has two more phases of renovations planned. The first $60,000 upgrade will update the dining room. Another phase of the upcoming renovations will include new floors. They center is moving away from carpet and going with harder surfaces to make mobility easier for the residents and personnel. Zalar and Baker agree that the personnel are also key to the center’s friendly vibe.

“It’s just very homelike. We are small, but we have a different feeling than other facilities. When people tour through here they feel like they are at home. They fell the caring environment. We have a dog and a cat and fish and it’s just a wonderful laid-back atmosphere. People feel comfortable bringing their loved ones here,” Baker said.

The 23-acre campus has 50 rooms for long-term care, 20 rooms for assisted living and 18 independent living units for people who are truly independent. These different offerings allow people to feel less anxious because they know there is someone near that can help in any way needed.

“There’s an opportunity to move through the levels of care no matter where you are in the end-of-life stages. It’s a very friendly facility and it’s important to create an environment where people feel comfortable,” said Zalar.

Friends Care Community is located at 150 E. Herman St. in Yellow Springs and can be contacted by calling 937-767-7363.