NORTH CONWAY, NH – The Conway Planning Board on February 22 conditionally approved the site plan for the $4.6 mil.14,000sf building that will house the MWV Adult Day Center subject to receipt of routine engineering permits. Memorial Elder Care Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Memorial Hospital, will operate the state-of-the-art memory care center, with multiple therapeutic and activity areas providing services to the guests and respite for their family and caregivers. The site is in Center Conway off Route 302 near the new Journey Church. The facility will see a ground breaking in spring 2018 and an anticipated opening in summer 2019.
Memorial will lease the facility from the buildings’ owner, The Betty C. Ketchum Foundation under a ten-year renewable lease. The Betty C. Ketchum Foundation mission is to serve the senior memory care population and their families and caregivers in the Mount Washington Valley area.
The Center is expected to fill a great need in the Valley, a point validated by the feasibility study conducted by Memorial in 2016. That study showed that by 2030 (less than 15 years away) Carroll County is predicted to be one of the oldest counties in NH with 48% of population over 65 years old and over 1000 residents in need of memory day care services.
The Center will result in a positive economic impact to the Mount Washington Valley in many ways, from generating new jobs to providing construction revenue to enabling family caregivers to return to the workforce.
The Center plans on employing upwards of 15-20 new staff once the Center is operating at full capacity. The staff will include RNs, LNAs, therapeutic activity coordinators, social workers, administrative support and drivers. The staffing will increase as the guest count grows over the years. The building is designed to accommodate up to 75 guests, although both staff and the guests will be staggered throughout the Center’s daily operations, which will be open 10 hours a day, Monday – Friday.
The initial construction and outfitting of the building will generate millions in construction costs, including engineering, site work, building materials, equipment, furnishings and landscaping. Whenever possible, local resources will be utilized. HEB Engineers of North Conway, NH was contracted for all of the site design engineering and permitting. Local contractors interested in learning more about the project are encouraged to contact construction manager Landry French Construction of Scarborough, ME.
The services the Center will offer will impact not just the senior in need of memory care but also their caregivers, whether it’s a spouse or an adult child or other family member. With unemployment in the Valley reaching historic lows and local businesses scrambling for staff, the Center may positively impact individuals’ ability to be part of the workforce. The Center may allow these caregivers to return to work, miss fewer hours of work due to illness or increase their hours as their loved ones can receive excellent care designed to improve their cognitive function in a safe and enriching environment.
Memorial’s nursing home administrator Sue Ruka, RN, PhD, who earned her doctorate in geriatric care stated, “Now more than ever, people 65 plus are still working. They may be the adult child caring for the parent, or their spouse. This is respite for them as well.”
Ruka also hopes that the Center will be an important first step in Mount Washington Valley becoming known as a dementia friendly community. This is a nationwide initiative to foster communities that are equipped to support people with dementia and their family and friends by working to become “dementia friendly.” This could include special training for local restaurants and shops on how to provide a welcoming environment for those with dementia. There are 54 dementia friendly communications in Massachusetts and it’s a trend that is spreading as Baby Boomers age and the need increases. More information on dementia friendly communities can be found at http://www.dfamerica.org.
This designation could see ripple effects in the Valley’s tourism and real estate market as both visitors and those looking to relocate or retire here will know these vital services are available. Visitors from away will be welcome to utilize the Adult Day Center’s services in addition to the local population, a welcome respite for vacationers who might not otherwise be able to partake in activities such as skiing or hiking due to caregiving duties.
Ruka continued, “People are living longer. Dementia is one of the most rapidly growing diagnosis. These people are living through other diseases. Age is one of the major risk factors. Our goal is to do common therapeutic activities, not clinical, to really help people maintain function and cognitive ability as much as possible. Mostly we want to bring quality of life and joy to people. People with dementia can experience joy. They should be happy, they should feel joy, and they should enjoy themselves. That’s a lot of what we’re going to do.”
The Adult Day Center will serve those with memory loss and cognitive and physical limitations. It will provide an array of memory-care services including structured activities, meals, health monitoring, art, music and physical therapy, socialization, and assistance with bathing and activities of daily living to seniors. The program is anticipated to offer affordable rates and potential financial support for participants may come from private family resources, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, state of NH caregiver grants and fundraising efforts.
The Conway Planning Board’s approval is a vital next step in the construction planning for the Center, as the plan is for construction to begin later this spring. The Conway ZBA previously approved a variance for the site in December 2017.
For more information about the Center, contact Memorial Hospital’s Sue Ruka at 603-356-5461 ext. 2194. More information may be found online at www.memorialhospitalnh.org/adultdaycenter.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, family birthing center, sleep center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services and the Miranda Center for Diabetes. Physician practices include primary care and family medicine, women's health, orthopedics and sports medicine. The Merriman House, a 45-bed nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's and other memory disorders, is also located on the hospital campus. Together, our staff and providers are committed to meeting the health needs of the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding communities by collaborating with community partners in the delivery of accessible, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality health care.