By Wade Coggeshall
AVON — About a year and a half ago, the Indiana-based Mainstreet Property Group commissioned a nationwide study on what retiring baby boomers want and need in their health care.
“We found quite a bit of disparity between what’s being offered currently and what baby boomers want,” said Zeke Turner, CEO of Mainstreet, which designs health and wellness centers for rehabilitating patients as well as service-rich apartments for full-time assisted living.
In fact, of those surveyed, 81 percent rejected traditional senior care.
“If you’re missing that much of your target market, something is wrong,” Turner said.
Enter the Wellbrooke Centers. Developed by Mainstreet and managed by Life Care Services, there are more than 100 now open across the United States. The latest, Wellbrooke of Avon, is at 10307 E. C.R. 100 N., by Indiana University Health West Hospital.
A public open house for the 66,350 square-foot facility is set for 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 19. More information is available by calling 273-2144 or visiting the website at WellbrookeOfAvon.com.
A sort of “health care resort,” Wellbrooke of Avon has 100 units; 70 are for rehabilitation and therapy services while the other 30 provide assisted living.
Turner says the No. 1 requested amenity those in the survey sought was private rooms with full baths. A full 90 percent of Wellbrooke’s units have that.
“It’s a nice size, but not so large that you get lost in the space,” said LCS’ Brian Lane, who’s general manager of Wellbrooke of Avon. “We’ve designed them to be comfortable.”
The other most popular feature currently sought in senior living is to have more social areas in which to gather. Not just lounges either. Wellbrooke of Avon has a pub and bistro, as well as a restaurant with chefs, not just a cafeteria.
“My goal is that if you have a loved one here, you can order off the same menu and get a good meal like you would at a restaurant,” Lane said. “These are destinations not just for residents but their families.”
A home theater system allows eight to 10 people to watch movies together. Or a family can gather to view home videos or slideshows.
“It’s just another opportunity for families to be engaged with the residents,” Lane said. “It’s so important to have that.”
Adding to the hotel-like atmosphere are the nurses’ stations, which look more like concierge service than something medical-related.
“That’s the feeling we want people to have,” Lane said. “This person’s here for you, whatever your needs are.”
Wellbrooke is currently going through the required licensure certification survey before being accepted into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. That should be complete by month’s end.
But they already have residents. Local hospitals are also inquiring about sending patients there for rehabilitation.
“They’re kind of waiting for us to open our doors,” Lane said. “There’s a lot of interest in this building.”
The $14.4 million development is expected to offer up to 100 full-time jobs. Another 300 worked on its construction.
Feedback from existing Wellbrooke centers — which include Westfield and Wabash — has been positive.
“People feel like they’re being treated like a person, not a number or a medical case,” said Turner, adding that their design represents a paradigm shift in how many feel about assisted senior living.
“The old model is based around long-term custodial care in an institutional setting,” he said. “What we’ve done is flip that on its head. Now we focus on getting people well and getting them home where they really want to be.”