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Big investment underway in Central Mass. senior health, living facilities

Facilities designed to accommodate elderly people with varying physical abilities are expanding in Central Massachusetts.

Two skilled nursing facilities in Worcester are revamping their buildings in major ways. In Shrewsbury, LCB Senior Living LLC of Norwood is building an assisted-living and independent living complex.

Together, the projects represent more than $32 million in investments.

The Worcester projects are skilled nursing facilities, healthcare centers that offer around-the-clock medical care and other services to patients who have been sick, injured or disabled. Some patients stay in skilled nursing facilities for short periods after an illness or operation, then return home. Others with significant health issues, including frail seniors, may need long-term care.

The state Department of Public Health currently licenses 414 nursing homes in Massachusetts, including 55 in Central Massachusetts communities.

Earlier this month, Sheehan Health Group, owners since 2012 of Lutheran Rehabilitation Skilled Care Center on Harvard Street, held a groundbreaking ceremony to unveil planned renovations. The group’s investment totals $6.6 million.

Molly Welch, Sheehan’s regional director for admissions and marketing, said that five years ago, Lutheran did some renovations of rooms, air conditioning and heating systems and a gym, but beginning in June will launch a revamp that will triple the size of the rehabilitation section.

Included in the gym will be quiet space for speech and cognitive therapy; a model apartment with a kitchen and bedroom, where patients can practice activities of daily living before discharge; updated physical therapy devices and other state-of-the-art equipment.

“We have a unique continuum of care here,” Ms. Welch said, distinguishing between the short-term rehabilitation unit for people recovering from a fall, accident, stroke, cardiac episode or other medical problems, and the long-term, 123-bed unit for seniors needing comprehensive skilled nursing care.

About 20 beds will be added when the rest home moves back into its original 1920 building on the site. Currently used for storage, the house will provide a 24-hour safe setting. It is attached to the center and not a stand-alone component, Ms. Welch said.

Sheehan Health Group Regional Administrator Ziad Baroody said that Lutheran has a staff of 170. Patients are followed by several physicians, he said, and two nurse practitioners are available.

He said no workers employed by outside agencies are ever used and that “personalized care,” taking into account a patient’s food preferences, for example, is a priority. A Spanish-speaking program includes cultural cuisine for the Latino community.

“There is a recognition within the industry to not be an institutional-type setting,” he said.

Lutheran’s main lobby will be improved, and a gift shop will be added. The dining room will be redecorated with new colors, window treatments and furniture; a new pub with a piano will be featured, along with a private dining area for family functions and celebrations.

All patient rooms will get new furniture, better lighting, window treatments and bathroom improvements.

“All the work will make the place more homelike and less institutionalized,” Ms. Welch said.

Also improved will be the patio, activities room and expansion of a “Namaste” space for patients who may need extra attention and cannot take part in regular activities. The area is designed for tranquility, with quiet music and aromatherapy, and a trained certified nursing assistant will be on hand to provide hand massages and other aid.

“We’ve seen success in this industry for this program, and including it does help with improving sleep,” Ms. Welch said. “It reflects a more holistic approach to the nursing center side.”

The rest home addition essentially puts the original house back into service. Residents there will have a separate dining room, living room, library and activities room.

Across town, Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center on Plantation Street in March unveiled $6 million in renovations, which were completed over  11 months.

Salmon Health and Retirement opened the now 159-bed comprehensive rehabilitation center in 2008. The facility is the top destination for patients discharged from the UMass Memorial Health Care accountable care organization, and it has strategic alliances with Reliant Medical Group and St. Vincent Hospital.

Kristine Binette, administrator at Beaumont, said Salmon’s nine campuses in Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Westboro and Worcester run the gamut of care levels, from assisted living and rehabilitation and skilled nursing to rest homes, adult day health, visiting nurses and hospice.

Beaumont specializes in complex medical and post-surgical rehabilitation care and has a special “Tapestry” program for dementia and memory problem patients.

Thanks to the project, individuals at the facility will have access to new equipment, including an anti-gravity treadmill that helps clients with injuries improve their strength. Ms. Binette said a video camera allows users to watch their steps and form on the treadmill and correct their gaits.

“It is less scary for the patient and lets them do more and have a faster recovery. It is a lot less physical for the therapists, and they become more like coaches,” she said.

Beaumont’s 24-hour operation includes six providers: three UMass geriatricians and three nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants who provide seven-day-a-week coverage.

Renovations also included an outdoor training area with a training car for practicing getting in and out of vehicles, a mailbox, benches and sample ground surfaces, such as cobblestone and grass to help people build confidence in completing outdoor tasks.

A garden was added for therapy and relaxation. Indoors, there is a “practice apartment” with a kitchen, bed and bathroom to help short-term patients prepare to go home.

The project also included renovations to common areas, the lobby, conference and resident rooms, adding private rooms with showers and the addition of decentralized dining on each floor with items such as panini makers and waffle irons.

Residents dine restaurant-style, and entertainers are regularly brought in. The facility also has an internet café.

Article source: http://www.telegram.com/news/20170528/big-investment-underway-in-central-mass-senior-health-living-facilities

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