Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quilt show raises money for needy residents of The Homeplace at Midway, and provides bus tours of facility

Story and photos by Sarah Brookbank
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Old and new came together this weekend at The Homeplace at Midway Quilt Show, which showcased quilts from Woodford County to benefit The Homeplace at Midway Benevolent Fund.

The show at Midway College featured vendors, music and quilt exhibits from local community members and historical societies to add to the fund set up to help Midway residents who face financial struggles while they live at the long-awaited elder-care facility. Bus tours of the construction site of the Homeplace, across Stephens Street from the college, ran on Saturday.

The Homeplace has been a long time coming. The Midway Nursing Home Task Force has worked for almost 16 years to bring a care facility to Midway so that Midwegians can stay close to home while getting the help they need. The Homeplace is being built and operated by Christian Care Communities, the largest private, faith-based provider of elder care in Kentucky.

One of the draws of the show was the quilt registry, which is an online archive of quilts from Kentucky. The quilts are photographed and added to the archive that is hosted by the Folk Life Archives of the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University. The Heritage Quilt Society registered quilts on Friday and Saturday.

The show was held at Anne Hart Raymond Building and featured more than 100 quilts. Members of the Nursing Home Task force worked until 8 p.m. setting up the display and working with The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society, said Helen Rentch, who organized the show.

Rentch, a longtime leader of the task force, encouraged members of the community to take the tours of the Homeplace, asking them about their plans and if they would be interested in living there, calling to them as they looked at quilts.

Rentch explained the long process of trying to get the Homeplace off the ground and the work that went into funding the project.

“When we started doing it, we wanted a small, community-sized facility,” she said. "In the industry, the principle is that you have to have at least 60 beds in the building or it’s not going to be financially feasible. And we didn’t want a facility like that, we couldn’t get that many beds licensed anyway, and consequently, we couldn’t find anybody who would agree to help finance or take over management. 
Even though there are thousands of companies out there doing it, they want it to be profitable.”

After five years of struggling to find a way to make the project come to life, the task force decided to work with a non-profit organization. Rentch said that after that decision was made, finding a non-profit with enough experience and credibility was difficult. After a few more years they found Christian Care, which runs 30 to 40 facilities across the state.

“They still didn’t think that it was financially feasible,” Rentch said. “So it took a number of more years before they would agree to agree to build the small houses that we wanted. Now that idea has become popular.” 

The Homeplace is considered a Green House facility, a new style of elder care that provides help while allowing freedom. All cottages feature an open kitchen and living area that will allow residents to come and go and prepare their own meals.

“If it doesn’t go in my house, it doesn’t go in the Green House Model,” said Linda Cox of Christian Care Communities, who will help manage the facility and gave bus tours if it. “You will not see a med cart in this place. That does not mean that our nurses are not providing medication, or care, or treatment. It’s just not done in that institutional type setting. It’s all sort of hidden away so it feels like home.”

When the Homeplace opens in the spring, a few months later than planned, it will have five buildings. One is the Farm House, which will house administrative offices and provide a place for activities and meetings.

Work continued as the bus tours ran on Saturday.
There are four apartment-style cottages with 12 bedrooms in each cottage.  One of the four is an assisted-living cottage that does not have full-time nursing staff, a memory-care cottage that will house patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and two cottages that will be skilled nursing facilities. The skilled nursing facilities will be more like a standard nursing home.

“The main tenets of the Green House are to fight the plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom for our elders and our seniors,” said Cox, adding that one of its slogans will be “Seniors rule.” The phrase will be used to remind the residents of the Homeplace that they are in control and will not be forced into scheduled living and eating like many nursing homes.

The Homeplace also hopes to add more patio-style homes around the facility for elders who need no assistance, in order to grow the community; as they age, they will move into different homes on the property.

The $13.5 million project sits on 31 acres across from the college, which will play a large role in the facility. Cox said internships and rotations will be available for college nursing students, and they are looking to expand that opportunity to hospitality students as well.

The show at the college was full of quilts and people. It has grown since last year, not only with the registry but with music by the Hills of Kentucky Dulcimer Society and a children’s activity table. On Friday night the Heritage Society registered 29 quilts. By lunchtime on Saturday it had registered 16 more. It tried to limit each family to two quilts because the process is time-consuming, and quilts must be at least 50 years old.

“We had a man come last night at 8 p.m. to register his quilts, because he had to wait to hire somebody to drive him,” Rentch recalled. “He’s elderly and has his grandmama’s quilts but he can’t drive.”

Rentch said the task force hopes to donate a few thousand dollars to the benevolent fund, which will benefit Midway residents who meet financial struggles while they live at the Homeplace. She said the fund needs to grow a great deal and that they will continue to raise money, even after the Homeplace opens. Residents who run out of money or cannot make ends meet on Medicaid benefits will be able to access the fund.

Rentch said, “The real object is to engage the community, which we have done successfully.”

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