Retirement Communities Setting New Standards

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new ways to live in retirement living communities in PaAfter sixteen months of pre-construction planning and two years of active construction, Foulkeways at Gwynedd’s 11.3 million dollar Building and Renovation Project is nearly completed. And, for the residents and staff of the first Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Pennsylvania and first Quaker Community in the United States, the exciting changes have been well worth the wait.

Finally, the earth movers, bull dozers, electricians, carpenters, HVAC specialists, roofers, tile and flooring tradesmen, and site superintendents are gone. In their place exists an expanded, 300 seat, state-of-the-art auditorium with theater quality lighting and sound system; a redesigned and enlarged formal dining room; renovations to the Community Center’s common areas; additional meeting rooms; expanded arts and craft spaces to support an active ceramics program and various painting classes; a new, garden level café complete with warm buffet selections for lunch and dinner meals; a special grill for ‘to-your-order’ steaks, veggie burgers and hamburgers; a brick oven for pizzas; and an expanded salad bar and take-out selections.

The Foulkeways kitchens have also been totally reconstructed and a new greenhouse and potting shed have been added to the area adjacent to the terrace dining. An ice cream parlor and convenience store, located directly off the main lobby, complete the 13,319 square foot addition.

Gone are the tarps, ladders, dust, electric drills and hard hats. Gone are the paint cans and trash bins, filled to the brim. The sounds of jack hammers no longer permeate the walkways and office partitions, and clear passage is assured once again as residents now move from point A to point B within the community, unobstructed. Yes, construction is complete, and everyone at Foulkeways is celebrating the end of two years of changes leading to the dawning of a new era.

From its inception, special attention was given to creating ‘green’ architecture whenever possible — from design through construction. Designed by Reese, Lower, Patrick & Scott Architects from Lancaster, Pa., intentional choices were made to decrease environmental impact, while increasing Foulkeways’ ecosystem responsibility through the use of recycled building materials and energy efficient natural resources. This includes bamboo flooring, geothermal heating and improved insulation for the existing building.

According to Foulkeways CEO, Doug Tweddale, “Foulkeways is extremely conscious of its environmental responsibilities, and is working diligently toward reducing its ‘carbon footprint’ — with carbon neutrality as the goal.” A carbon footprint is a measurement of how much carbon is generated by lifestyle and consumption patterns; at the community, this measure includes how purchased utilities are generated, the use of fuel, the waste generated and how carbon is sequestered on the property. Carbon neutrality will involve not only installation of green technologies, but also behavioral and programmatic changes to save energy and reduce waste. Not only will the community be providing leadership in sustainability, it will be researching and validating green activities and contributing to the health of the planet.

“Residents have been extremely patient throughout the entire construction project, and I am here to sing their praises,” says Foulkeways Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Nancy Nolan. “They have been juggling relocated meeting rooms and activity areas closed for repairs for the last two years. Our always active auditorium was shut down for 16 months. Construction vehicles blocked driveways and walkways for close to two years while they traveled on temporary roadways created just for this project. Those roads are now gone and the rolling meadows which had been crisscrossed with gravel and stone to provide temporary vehicle access are once again awaiting the return of warm weather to nurture the grass seed planted in late fall. Through it all, our residents have remained positive.”

“Our new Meadow Café, which opened in May of ’09, has become ‘the’ gathering spot for Foulkeways residents. Offering a more relaxed atmosphere than the formal dining room, the Meadow Café overlooks the Wimbledon, shuffleboard and bocce courts as well as the badminton, horseshoe and putting greens. Busy from breakfast through dinner, the café provides outdoor, terrace dining and wireless internet service. Our residents are simply loving it,” reports a smiling Nolan.

“We’re sure Starbucks is wondering where everyone has gone, since the café opened,” adds resident Reg Ticknell.

Residents Association President, Martin Trueblood has seen his community “in transition,” almost non-stop, since he and his wife Margy moved to their apartment in 2004. “A community that is not constantly exploring improvements is really a community that risks becoming stagnant,” he says. In 2001 Foulkeways completed the construction of Gwynedd House, a leading edge example of what the future held for Skilled Nursing Facilities. Gwynedd House was nothing like the nursing home models in the early 2000’s; it introduced a Wellness Model that is still being duplicated today. Gone were the corridors of yesterday, with nurses’ stations and nursing equipment lining the halls; in their place has been a home-like environment where patient care centers around the residents’ needs rather than the needs of the staff. These innovative concepts have won Gwynedd House nine different national awards.

“In 2003 Foulkeways completed Abington House, our Assisted Living Facility that houses 53 one-bedroom suites, six temporary-stay rooms and our Memory Support suites in Owen Court,” says Nolan. “Abington House connects the independent community with Gwynedd House, our Skilled Nursing facility, through the creative use of a quarry tiled ‘Main Street.’ The pharmacy, beauty salon, library, physical therapy and additional activity rooms are all located along Main Street, so the foot traffic is constant, much to the delight of the residents who live there and relish their continued connection with their friends in the independent community.”

“Our residents have been consistently good-spirited and gracious about the inconveniences they have experienced,” notes CEO Tweddale. “They continue to look forward to the future, with the realization that time is likely to bring additional changes and challenges. Life without change is life standing still. We continue to set standards of excellence in retirement living, just as we have been doing since we opened our campus in November of 1967.”

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