Building on Innovation: Why Life Plan Communities Are Better for Seniors

Building on Innovation: Why Life Plan Communities Are Better for Seniors

Teresa Dusil, Director of Operations, Meth-Wick Community

Since our founding in 1961, Meth-Wick Community has been innovative in the senior living space by offering multiple levels of care on one campus. This model is known as a Life Plan Community. Teresa Dusil, Meth-Wick’s Director of Operations, joins us on the blog this week to discuss Life Plan Communities, their forward-thinking philosophy, and the most invaluable feature they offer older adults.

What is a Life Plan Community?

Life Plan Communities, formerly known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs, are residential communities with more than one level of care on a single campus. They also promote active lifestyles and community integration.

Meth-Wick’s commitment to providing multiple levels of care was as innovative in the sixties as it is today. Decades ago, that meant residents could live independently or in nursing care. Today, those options have expanded to include two kinds of assisted living, for physical care and memory care, as well as Independence Plus, Meth-Wick’s unique living style for residents who want to live independently but need an extra hand with certain tasks.

“It is a place people choose to move to rather than have to move to,” says Dusil. Often, older adults wait too long to decide where to spend their senior years and are forced to find assisted living in a moment of crisis. Life Plan Communities remove the element of stress. They are places for active older adults to live independently. Then, when their lifestyle or health needs change, they don’t have to move again. They receive the care they need on the same campus.

What makes a Life Plan Community more innovative than other senior living options?

It’s all about the increasing levels of care. If someone living in senior housing needs more care, they will need to arrange another move to an assisted living facility. That’s not the case at a Life Plan Community like Meth-Wick. Assisted living, for both physical or mental needs, and nursing care are available in the same community. The idea is to relieve individuals and couples from the burden of home ownership,” says Dusil. “And give them a chance to relax knowing no matter what happens, they will never have to move again.”

What’s the most valuable aspect of a Life Plan Community for an older adult?

That answer is different for every individual, but Dusil thinks one feature is particularly important.

“Community. It’s vital for everyone but as people age there are more roadblocks to finding or sustaining community. Bad weather, the inability to drive, mobility issues, the loss of a partner… It can result in loneliness and isolation. Living in a place that naturally removes many of those roadblocks to community is invaluable. At a Life Plan Community, you can dine with others, play cards, watch movies, or simply run into someone while you’re getting the mail. Those little things really improve quality of life.”

It’s a benefit she’s seen play out in real time over the past few years. Between the pandemic and the 2020 derecho, Meth-Wick residents benefitted from the quality of care and community a Life Plan Community provides.

“Over and over, I see gratitude expressed for meal deliveries, vaccination clinics on campus, and televised fitness, worship, educational and entertainment programming developed by our staff. Residents have continually said how they appreciate being here during these tough times. It’s been a difficult couple of years everywhere but at least our residents didn’t have to worry about leaky roofs, downed trees, and the other damage brought about by the derecho. Our COVID protocols are always changing but when it’s possible, residents are thrilled to gather for meetings, coffee, happy hours, meals, and cards knowing they are in a safe environment.”

People naturally crave community and stability. By offering multiple levels of care on one campus and easy access to a group of peers, Life Plan Communities like Meth-Wick are uniquely positioned to provide both. It’s a philosophy that made Meth-Wick as innovative in 1961 as we are today.

This article is part of the “Building on Innovation” series celebrating Meth-Wick Community’s 60th Anniversary serving older adults in Cedar Rapids. From 1961 to today, Meth-Wick has been an innovative leader in the senior living market. We will be exploring this theme throughout the year on our blog.