U.S. Census Bureau data for 2014 puts the portion of older residents in Blount County higher than the Tennessee average, and providers of senior care have taken notice.
In Blount, the population aged 65 and older was 18.4 percent, while statewide was 15.1 percent.
Census statistics also showed 11.3 percent of Blount Countians lived in multi-unit housing compared to 18.3 percent in Tennessee.
A number of businesses have responded recently to the housing needs of seniors by providing new facilities and services.
The latest is Clover Hill Senior Living. The new assisted living facility at 2317 Highway 411 South, in Maryville, is now accepting pre-leases ahead of an anticipated January 2016 opening.
The $5.5 million, 26,000-square-foot facility is licensed for 60 residents. It is owned by Dominion Senior Living, which also has assisted living facilities in Sevierville, Crossville and Johnson City.
There’s been an “unbelievable response” already, and 25 percent of the facility’s capacity has already been pre-leased, Clover Hill Administrator Skip Wheeler said during a tour of the facility on Friday.
Construction is expected to wrap up late this week, and then furniture will be moved in and all inspections completed before Clover Hill opens next month. On Friday, workers were paving the parking lot and front driveway. Inside the building, others were painting walls and rolls of carpet were waiting to be installed.
“For residents who are transitioning to senior living from home, we want the residents to accept this as their residence and not ‘my kids have put me in the home’ type of attitude, so the more residential we can give the feel, the better chance we have of achieving that,” Wheeler said.
The building is in the shape of a triangle, and has a secure entry with an interior courtyard. There are nursing stations at the end of each hallway, which Wheeler said gives staff a clear view of the corridors.
Clover Hill will have a licensed nurse on site 24 hours a day, a service Wheeler said has “dramatically reduced trips to the hospital” at the company’s other facilities.
All-inclusive pricing policy
Another unique feature at Clover Hill is all-inclusive pricing. Many other facilities use “level-of-care” pricing models, Wheeler said.
“We thought it was unfair for families to go visit assisted living (facilities) and not know when they walked away exactly how much the monthly bill was going to be, because there was a base price that was presented, but until their parent or family member moved in, they didn’t know exactly what level-of-care fees would be applied and those could change the rate pretty dramatically,” he said.
The staff also don’t want residents to hesitate to ask for help for fear of increasing their bill, Wheeler said.
“We want people to ask for help no matter what it is and not worry about if it’s going to affect their monthly bill,” he said.
The facility has in-house physical therapy and a beauty and barber shop. Clover Hill is working with Blount Senior Care to provide medical services.
The facility has a main dining where staff and residents will eat together. There are smaller family rooms throughout the building, and each wing has an activity room. The resident rooms each have a private bathroom, a built-in chest of drawers and a closet.
Wheeler said they are focused on fostering a sense of community among the residents, and keeping the residents connected to the community outside of Clover Hill.
“Our goal here is to let people age in place. We don’t want people to have to move from here,” Wheeler said.