The main activity room at LIFE Lutheran Services in Cumberland County, PA (former Shaull Elementary School)
Building on the success of our program in Franklin County, LIFE (Living Independently For the Elderly) Lutheran Services is expanding the program to Cumberland County. A new LIFE Center, to open in February 2013 at the former Shaull Elementary School, 1920 Good Hope Road, Enola, will have 30,000 square feet of space in which to provide a wide range of LIFE services to about 100 participants.
“We are excited about the opportunity to move into the area. We know that area of Cumberland County is not served by our particular modality of service. There is a great opportunity and need there for our kind of services,” says Bruce Ashbaugh, executive director – LIFE Lutheran Services. “We also have the potential for future interaction and partnerships with other health care providers in the area.”
The goal of the LIFE program is to provide seniors with the ability to live safely in their homes and their communities with dignity and independence by providing access to a full range of preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services, as well as an array of social, physical and mentally-stimulating activities. The program includes many elements of the traditional health care system and is coordinated by an interdisciplinary team. The services will be provided primarily at the LIFE Center, supplemented by in-home and referral services according to participants’ needs. The center will have its own fleet of buses with trained drivers who will pick up LIFE participants, bring them to the LIFE Center and then take them home.
Ashbaugh says the impact of the LIFE program will be “tremendous” for participants and their families. “Families want to have the ability to keep their loved ones at home – where they want to be – for as long as possible. They want to avoid having them live in a nursing home, as long as they are living as safely as possible and their medical needs and well-being are being taken care of. LIFE Lutheran Services provides just that. We want to help keep people as well as possible, allowing them to reach their maximum emotional, spiritual and physical potential for as long as possible,” explained Ashbaugh.
Spearheading the transformation of the former elementary school into the new LIFE Center is Kim Conrad, who will be center manager when it opens.
Conrad says one of the unique features to be offered in the new LIFE Center is a dedicated dementia unit staffed by dementia-care specialists. An enclosed outdoor courtyard will complement a secure, spacious activity room.
“We have carved out a niche for individuals with dementia. It is so important to help their families maintain them in the community. We are going to be able to tailor programs and activities to meet the individual needs of people with dementia. This is something that you don’t typically see in a LIFE Center,” explained Conrad.
Other features of the LIFE Center will include: a large activity room; an eight-bed facilitative medical clinic staffed by a physician, nurse practitioner and registered nurses; plus a therapy department that will accommodate 15-20 participants, staffed by physical, occupational and speech therapists; physical and occupational therapy assistants, and personal care assistants who will be cross-trained as restorative aides.
Conrad is combining her vision and insight into how best to use the available space. She has a keen respect for the building’s heritage, an efficient use of financial resources and socially responsible building practices.
“We looked at the raw building and tried to see what things we could save and reuse. We did it for both economical purposes and because we are trying to keep the building intact as much as possible.
We want the community involved and to know that we’re not going to just come in and knock down the old building and put up a new one,” said Conrad.
The new Center will incorporate all existing light fixtures, use as many of the existing walls as possible and keep the basic layout of the building. Other freestanding pieces such as a unique, wooden card catalog from the former school will be used in the activity room for storage of personal items. Some one-of-a-kind, colorful ceramic tiles created by children at the former school will be used as artwork on the walls throughout the center. An open house is planned for early spring 2013 and the community will be invited to see the renovations and the new Center.
“I want the community surrounding our new LIFE Center to see us as a support system for them. We want to help them and their loved ones remain independent in their homes while knowing they have our support available when they need it. We hope to become part of their family,” says Conrad.
For more information about LIFE Lutheran Services, visit www.lifelutheranservices.org or call