In Townshend, Senior Center Prepares To Expand

07/08/11 9:20AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) A community-designed senior housing complex that opened four years ago in Townshend is about to grow.
Valley Cares, the nonprofit that runs the project, says its assisted living units are so much in demand that it plans to build more.

VPR's Susan Keese has the story.

(Keese) West River Valley Senior Housing and West River Valley Assisted Living sit side by side, a stone's throw from Grace Cottage Hospital.

Most of the people living here are from the dozen or so rural towns the hospital and its medical staff serve. Valley Cares Director Bob Crego says some elderly residents have come from other states to be near relatives.

(Crego) "You know, we've got people here who just want to downsize their home, so they go to an independent living apartment. We're sort of meeting a whole range of needs here, from folks who are independent all the way up to nursing home level."

(Keese) The housing complex got its start when Grace Cottage Hospital closed its nursing home in 2002. Crego says that's when citizens and hospital representatives, hoping to fill the void, began to survey the valley's elder care needs.

(Crego) "The question they were asking I think was, ‘What do seniors and their families need in this community to enable the senior to be able to remain in the community as they aged?'"

(Keese) Eventually the answers were incorporated into the project's ‘continuum of care.'

Crego says Grace Cottage Hospital's proximity and reputation for personal attention contributed to the project's success. So did the affordable rent.
The complex opened in 2007 with 24 independent apartments and 28 assisted living units. Crego says they're all full.

(Crego) "I think we have about 48 people on the waiting list for independent housing. And I think we have 60 people on the waiting list for assisted living."

Valley Cares decided to add 12 new assisted living units first, because the needs associated with those are often more pressing.

The organization plans to buy a neighboring piece of land for the addition, and apply for a Community Development Block Grant through the town of Townshend.

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese.

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