By Billie David

Kaw Valley Senior Monthly
www.seniormonthly.net

With the new addition to Baldwin City’s ComfortCare home increasing demand for more available spaces in small, residential care homes, ComfortCare president Scott Schultz decided it was time to think about opening a new ComfortCare, this time in Ottawa.

“The six-county area around Ottawa has very limited services for dementia care in terms of residential homes,” Schultz explained. He worked on plans to open the Ottawa home during the second half of 2013, and then the perfect place became available.

“The house came on the market in February of 2014, so that’s when we really started moving forward,” Schultz said. The house, located at 27 E. Rockwood Drive, was previously owned by Ottawa University.

“The president of Ottawa University lived there,” Schultz said, “and during the semester break, the international students stayed there, and they had parties there. The house is well known among the alumni.” The house is ideal because it offers 3,500 square feet of space on one level and is located on two acres of land. “It is probably one of the nicest homes in Ottawa that met our needs,” Schultz said.

The house is large enough to filled up and an accommodate seven bedrooms five bathrooms, and can and house eight residents. There are two large living rooms located side by side, the floor plans are completely open, the house is located in a pristine neighborhood, and a large asphalt drive leading up to the garage provides plenty of room for parking.

The two acres of land includes a wooded area, a large backyard with a walking path, and a seated patio with a water feature.Ottawa ComfortCare is set to open on October 1 of this year, and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on September 24.

The home’s focus will be on dementia care, although Schultz said that one does not have to be diagnosed with dementia to live there.“But that’s our specialty, for people with memory loss,” he added.The smaller setting is important for people with cognitive impairment because they can easily become confused in a large facility. The higher caregiver-to-resident ratio that ComfortCare offers means that residents have an easier time getting to know the staff members and becoming familiar with their surroundings.

Residents are also encouraged to participate in the day-to-day chores around the house, which gives them a sense of meaning in their lives, and the smaller number of residents also means that the activities can be personalized to meet the needs of each individual.

In keeping with the focus on memory care, there is a nurse on staff certified as a dementia care practitioner who works with the other employees.“So every person who works for us has training in that area,” Schultz explained.

Another important focus of Ottawa’s ComfortCare home is its relationship with the Ottawa community.“We’ve been amazed at how friendly the community has been,” Schultz said. “We work hard to be part of it.”When residents can participate in neighborhood activities such as barbecues and the lighting of holiday luminaries, it provides a more seamless transition as part of the community they grew up in, he added.

ComfortCare homes, providing licensed care in residential homes in community settings, is based in Wichita, having opened its home there in 1993. The homes are locally owned and operated, which means that there is no decision-making tree from an out-of-state corporation, Schultz said, so that issues can be addressed quickly by the local owner.

ComfortCare homes also have fit of 21 years of experience in memory care since that first home opened in Wichita. Schultz opened his first ComfortCare home in June of 2011. Responding to local demand, he expanded the home in the summer of 2013, adding 1,300 square feet. The created by the expansion were filled in four months, bringing the total number of residents to 12, and there is still a waiting list.“ It’s the wave of the future,” Schultz explained. “When a person leaves their home, they really prefer a house to a facility. A person with memory loss does better in a smaller place with fewer people. In an institution, they take a wing and call that the dementia care wing, but here it is like home.”

Schultz will be operating the Ottawa home when it opens, and Susan Gray is the operator at the Baldwin City home.“She’s a registered nurse with 35 years of experience with a specialty in cardiac issues, and she just earned an MBA at Baker,” Schultz said. “She brings a wealth of wisdom and experience that families have really come to appreciate, and she does a great job of coaching families, helping them through the difficult stages of dementia and helping them keep connected to their loved ones.”

In keeping with that goal, family members are encouraged to come as often as possible, and there are private areas where people can meet together one-on-one, Schultz said, adding, “They are an extension of our own family. That’s really the goal.”

More information about the ComfortCare homes in Ottawa and Baldwin City is available online at www.comfortcareottawa.com and www.comfortcarebaldwin.com. Schultz can be reached at the Ottawa site at (785) 242-1809.