Editor’s Note: The Homestead, in Anoka, is featured in this fifth and final installment of ECM Publishers’ series on elderly care. This facility is a 120-bed rehabilitation and living center that also has 59 apartment units, providing a mix of independent and assisted living.
A major change in elderly care focuses on choice. The elderly now have a number of services available to them in a retirement-like environment.
It took 10 years of persistence for The Homestead at Anoka to become a reality, and it is a tribute to those who pursued a dream of replacing an outdated structure with a new rehabilitation and care center.
The Anoka Care Center built in 1960 on Madison Street was closed and replaced by a new structure, the 120-bed Anoka Rehabilitation and Living Center, complemented by 59 apartment units to create a mix of independent and assisted living. Together, the nursing home and housing complex became The Homestead at Anoka, at 3000 Fourth Ave. in Anoka. It is operated by Volunteers of America.
Wayne Olson, senior vice president of operations and development for Volunteers of America National Services, said the eventual success leading to the opening of The Homestead in May 2013 was made possible due to cooperation of three units of government: state, city and county.
“Oftentimes, one starts a journey hoping for an outcome, but this journey has far exceeded our imagination of 10 years ago,” Olson said.
Variety of care
This project was built for the future and has a wide variety of options for seniors, including short-term rehabilitation, a robust rehab program and long-term services and care.
Independent senior housing is offered in apartments that assure residents their independence. Transitional care is provided at The Homestead, less expensive than longer stays at a hospital, and the latest advances in memory care treatment are practiced.
The dining facilities are modern, with satellite kitchens available; a larger kitchen supplies the satellite facilities. Underground parking and social activities are just some examples of the other features offered.
The Homestead will continue to develop a program of services that will allow residents the opportunity to age gracefully and be able to deal with the changes they face regarding service venues.
A nursing home historically has been a residential place for people to come and live for a long time, Olson said.
Residents at The Homestead stay an average of 10-14 days. Only a small fraction end up staying for long-term care and services, Olson said.
He called the new elderly care facilities in Anoka a community amenity that allows seniors an opportunity to recover from illness and injury and to live a retirement lifestyle free of burden of shoveling snow and cutting the grass.
Developing the redevelopment
The road to developing this project began with the assessment that the old Anoka Care Center was land locked and not a structure that could serve elderly needs in the future.
“We were still very proud of the services provided there,” Olson said.
Special legislation was obtained from the state to relocate the building in the community, within four miles. To allow this to happen, a certificate of need had to be obtained. That’s when the state of Minnesota, Anoka County and the city of Anoka joined hands on a journey to buy the land and develop it for elderly care needs. The project is located on eight acres.
Bob Kirchner, retired city community development director, spearheaded the assemblage of players from the three units of government.
“The leaders showed how government is supposed to work by sitting down and getting the project completed,” Olson said.
Some land trades between the city and county were accomplished to move the project ahead.
According to Olson, had the project been built 10 years ago, it would not have had the scope of services and opportunities for future development that now exist.
“We are thrilled where we are and where we are going,” Olson said.
Olson said the project would not have happened without the stellar efforts provided by Kirchner and by Rep. Jim Abeler and by former Sen. Leo Foley.
He also paid tribute to Ron Patterson, chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance for Volunteers of America. Patterson died unexpectedly just over a year ago, before The Homestead was completed.
Planning for future needs
Looking to the future, Olson said there is an option for land available for rental housing interests.
“We want to see a large variety of services that will work for Anoka; let the market tell us what it wants and how to deliver it,” he said.
Volunteers of America has a portfolio of facilities around the nation, including Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio. In Minnesota, Volunteers of America has facilities in Anoka, Sleepy Eye, Rochester, Cannon Falls, Maplewood, Edina and Crystal.
“We spent a lot of time planning the space for decades to come,” Olson said. “Planning looks at the living environment services and how they can be coordinated and operated with the nursing home side.”
Rooms are clustered into 20-unit neighborhoods for Alzheimer’s patients, for transitional care and for long-term chronic disease and disabilities.
Consistency of professional nursing care provides an accommodating lifestyle for residents and their families, Olson said. Special places for residents and families are available to allow for privacy they would expect in their own homes.
Overall cost of The Homestead campus is listed at $35 million.
“That is a sizable investment for the communities of Anoka, Coon Rapids and Andover areas, and we are in the right spot where people want to be,” Olson said. “We are just in the early stages of continued growth.”
The quality of care is accented by trained professionals and improved technology, he said. More than 200 workers are staffed in the skilled nursing care facility.
Support for The Homestead has come widely from residents’ families and the entire community. The quest for better elderly care 10 years ago has resulted in better care and more lifestyle choices today, Olson said.
Howard Lestrud is at