Creating Home

By Sarah Duggan on June 26, 2018

I remember my grandfather’s mother. She was beautiful, worldly and raised five boys. I recall spending time with her and that I felt happy and engaged when doing so, although I don’t remember a single thing we ever talked about. We called her Grandma Ruby.

There came a time during my childhood that Grandma Ruby moved from her apartment to a nursing home in a small town near the one I grew up in. This was one of my very first experiences with institutional living, and it was complete with sterile hallways and a cafeteria-style dining room. It no longer felt like we were visiting Grandma in her home and I didn’t have the same anticipation and excitement when it came time to go see her. I wished it felt more like her home.

Creating home within a facility setting is not an easy thing, but it is a path Meadowlark has been on for many years. The organization adopted the Household Model in 2000. This model is about removing any elements that make residents’ homes feel like part of a hospital, including rigid schedules, one-size-fits-all meals, clinical noises and obtrusive medical components. After the removal of the hospital environment, Meadowlark welcomes a renewed emphasis on residents first. This meant front porches for each of the household entrances, open kitchen and living areas for entertaining, resident direction behind decisions and the understanding that social interaction is a choice. With the addition of warmth and color to the spaces, resident privacy was also prioritized.

Over the years, there have been changes and enhancements to the Meadowlark campus and constant attention paid to maintaining the sanctity of the households. And we know that the population in need of services will continue to grow and the types of care models available will need to adjust to the wants and desires of aging generations. Meadowlark remains on the forefront of exploring better ways to care for older adults, not only on the current campus in Manhattan, Kan. but also in the surrounding region. Last fall, Meadowlark identified an exciting opportunity to serve more people in more communities.

As of Dec. 1, 2017, Meadowlark became the new owner of Autumn Hills Memory Care Home. Autumn Hills, now Meadowlark Memory Care Suites, is a Home Plus model for senior living with a focus on memory care with two locations; one in Manhattan (Scenic House) and one in Riley (Riley House). Lonnie Baker, CEO of Meadowlark, is ready for the chance to provide high quality care to more individuals. “As an organization, we are always reinventing ourselves,” Lonnie shared. “In continuing to grow and expand, this is the next logical step. As our home health agency grows and the reach from the Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program and Memory Program increase, Home Plus presents itself as a natural fit.”

Home Plus at Scenic and Riley House is just that, residential houses where a small, consistent staff care for 12 or less residents. Creating home and an environment where people want to be has been a consistent focus for Meadowlark and will continue to be within this new care model.

Home is different for everyone. For some they are happiest in a place where there are many opportunities for social engagement and amenities to utilize. The Meadowlark Hills campus will continue to offer its current living options, complete with access to the many amenities like the Caul Fitness Center, Grosh Cinema, Prairie Star Restaurant and two newly renovated spaces, Pizazz Salon and Verna Belle’s Café.

Grandma may have missed the opportunity to live in a place, whether it be a retirement community campus or a modest Home Plus, that she could truly feel at home in, but I hope there are fewer stories like my Grandma’s as we move toward the future where home is expected when caring for our aging loved ones. After all, there’s no place like home.