Cardiff by the Sea: A New Belmont Village Community

Friday night, I was invited by the folks at Belmont Village to the open house of their new community in Cardiff by the Sea, California.  For those of you who don’t know, Cardiff is about 30 minutes north of San Diego and is, well, by the sea.  Cardiff holds a sweet spot in my heart, because it happens to the area where I grew up and where my mom had her stroke.  I drove by that spot hundreds of times over the years.

Many of you already know that I am fascinating by the shift that is occurring in assisted living.  The average assisted living resident is well over 80 years old, and providers must satisfy this demographic to be successful today.  But these communities will be around for many years to come, so providers must also plan for a dramatic shift in the lifestyle requirements of incoming boomers who need care.

So how do you build for today and plan for tomorrow?

I think the folks at Belmont really nailed it when they built the Cardiff community.  Thanks to a private tour from one of their executives (thanks, Doug!), I was able to spend some quality time at the community and share what I found.

Great Location

Belmont’s Cardiff community is located across the street from an estuary and about 3 miles from the beach.   The field behind the estuary is home to weekend hot air balloon rides and has been for many years.  If you’re up before 10am, you’ll be stunned by the beauty of 10+ balloons either taking off or floating in the skyline.
As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the community entrance is quite elegant and has a country club or resort feel to it.

Levels of Care

This community is home to independent living, assisted living and Alzheimer’s/dementia care through their Circle of Friends program. The building is four stories with each level of care occupying a different wing of the building.  Various amenities and social areas connect the different wings.

One differentiator that impressed me was their providing 24-hour nursing care.  This is not a requirement for assisted living communities in California and provides an extra peace of mind that many families will find helpful.  Medication is dispensed from LVNs – again something not required.  But since many seniors take a variety of medications, it’s a nice touch to invest in LVNs for this service.

Accommodations

The independent living apartments are offered in a variety of sizes from studios to two bedroom apartments.  The design and décor was both current and highly functional, reminding of a new housing development.  The independent living wing was built in a horseshoe shape with a large full and chairs in the middle. You could tell the balconies overlooking the pool would be prime real estate and a social center for the community.

The assisted living apartments shared the same décor and were a little smaller as one would expect.  They Belmont takes an “aging in place” approach enabling independent living residents to stay in their apartments should they later require assisted living.  Well thought!

Amenities

Many assisted living communities provide somewhat similar amenities – some do a better job than others and some have very unique ways of offering them.  Below are the amenities I thought were unique about this community.

  • Wireless Internet. The community had several Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the community, a sign they are building for today and planning for tomorrow.
  • Bar Bistro. What better fit for wireless Internet than an in-house coffee shop? Offering coffee drinks, pastries and small snacks, I could tell the Bar Bistro would give a positive and social vibe to residents.
  • Life Enhancement Room. This was the community gym. Not only was the room itself large, but it was filled with cardio equipment, therapy equipment and an aerobics mirror. The room was staffed by a trainer with physical therapy experience and a masseuse. The goal of this room is to rehabilitate and integrate exercise into the residents’ lives. As someone who is always at the gym, this is a great perk. And the stories of residents who had made real progress was very inspiring.
  • Club Room. For you guys out there, this is the MAN ROOM. Complete with plasma, bar, a wine locker and a bumper pool table, I wish I had this room in my house. At my mom’s community, there was always a conflict between those residents that wanted to watch the USC football game and the ones that wanted to hear the volunteer piano player. The Club Room solves this problem… and then some.
  • Theater. The theater was a near replica of a traditional movie theater. With a big screen and enough real theater seating for around 30 people, I could imagine the room turning movie night into an exciting event. The Belmont folks even had an authentic popcorn machine.
  • Center for Learning. The Center for Learning offered a combination of computer room/game room. The computers were outfitted with large text keyboards – something I never even thought of, but what a great touch. Teaching my mom the computer was always a challenge, and they took the extra steps to make it easy.

Wrapping it All Up

I think you can tell from the article that I was very impressed with the community.  Newer communities often have the flexibility of new construction, but they lose the warmth of a more mature building.  With the Cardiff community,  I think they did a good job of keeping both.

  • Keven Bonner

    I wish I could say the same thing for Belmont Village, Burbank. My Mother is in the “Neighborhood”. When she became a resident in July of last year the care was acceptable, but after a recent hospitalization which left her in a weakened state her care has plumeted down. The administration asked us to place my Mom on Hospice to get added care. Even with the added care the PALS in her unit have been told to confine my Mom to bed due to Work Comp issues they have with their staff. My Mom is now at risk for Pneumonia, bed sores and blood clots. Belmont looks good on the outside, but please consider the care prior to placing your loved one there.

  • Still Grief Stricken

    All these places seem great at first glance but it depends on the staff.

    My mother imo was killed after my evil sister placed her in the Belmont Village in Burbank. One of their hispanic “pals” reported to work and WAS ALLOWED TO WORK with this elderly population with a cold or flu.

    Needless to say, my mother (who was recuperating from surgery) caught the cold, was in and out of the hospital and died a miserable death JUST THREE WEEKS LATER!

    May my sister and all these people ROT IN HELL for their stupidity and CARE-LESS attitudes……..not to mention GREED.

  • Still Grief Stricken

    My heart goes out to you! I have a friend who is an expert in the elder abuse field and has an aunt who has been at the Elms Convalescent or Nursing Home in Glendale for six years. Her mother was also a patient there. She told me these facilities now have a rating system, similar to restaurants and the Elms is rated a five-star!

    Please, please consider moving your mom out of Belmont Village and read my post above. I had not seen yours when I posted. My mother was in Belmont Village five years ago.

    I did not like the way they seemed to come into her one-bedroom apt. to supposedly check on something or other or empty the trash almost every time I was there. It seemed like an invasion of privacy and I was wondering if they were listening outside the door to see what we were talking about as well as snooping through her business and financial records!!!

  • Still Grief Stricken

    How do we know this lavish praise of the Cardiff Belmont Village wasn't written by one of their employees?

  • http://twitter.com/RyanMalone Ryan Malone

    Still Grief Stricken – I am very sorry for your loss and what seems like a very unpleasant experience overall (to say the least). I wrote the article and am in now way affiliated with Belmont Village. Full disclosure: my mother did live in a Belmont Village in Orange County when I wrote my book the By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living. Our experience there was positive. She moved from there in an attempt to live in her own apartment outside of assisted living.

    The purpose of my article was to share what I saw from an open house tour – as a journalist. I fully endorse the concept of assisted living, as it continues to be useful for my mother. I try not to get into endorsing specific brands because individual communities may have more problems than others, depending on the area, executive director, etc. She is in another provider now, because they population demographics were younger than at the Belmont Village she was at.

    I wish you the best in your situation.

    Ryan Malone
    Managing Editor
    Inside Elder Care

  • Still Grief Stricken

    My horrible memories of my sister and her placement of my mother (who was stupid to give her and her greedy husband power of attorney for health care imo) in Belmont Village and then Provident St. Elisabeth's will never be forgotten.

    One of Belmont's PALS seemed very nice but gave me a very funny feeling. My mom seemed to have taken a liking to this woman so I was careful not to say anything critical but something about me made me feel she was nosy and not trustworthy. She was one of the few non-hispanics btw.

    In the short time my mom was there, she (who was not a complainer) mentioned the dining room had gone down as the cook had quit and they also were short-handed due to some problems the driver had. This man was supposed to be available to take those able and wanting to go out shopping and various errands.

    The prices these places charge are way out of proportion for the care given imo.

    I hope I never have to go to one and plan to explore long-term care insurance for myself in the near future.

  • Still Grief Stricken

    Please read my comments below yours and consider moving your mother OUT of Belmont Village asap! My poor mother had to be put on oxygen after one of their PALS came to work sick and she caught the cold or flu from this woman. Belmont Village wasn't set up for oxygen due to fire regulations, supposedly. My mother, consequently, was sent to a nursing home by my sister and even then had to be re-hospitalized for breathing difficulty and was sent back to the nursing home where she died…..all within three weeks!

    I will keep you and your mom in my prayers and I know how overwhelming this can be. Your mother raised you right and please explore the resources that are available on the Internet and elsewhere. BE VIGILANT as even the top-rated facilities can spiral downward quickly…..depending on their staff imo.

  • Still Grief Stricken

    Ryan,

    Thank you very much and all the best to you and your mother. She is lucky to have you looking out for her! I see now how you got my email addy! I didn't realize you were the writer of this article when I checked.

    These facilities serve a purpose for those needing them but so much needs to be done to insure the patients are being well-cared for!

    As mentioned, while my mom was at B.V. Burbank, the quality of the meals went down as did the transportation services. Did they reduce the price being charged the residents, accordingly? NO WAY!

    I will be very interested in your articles and books and am going to bookmark this in my “favorites.” Keep up your good work and vigilance on behalf of your dear mother and all the others in need of help.

  • Still Grief Stricken

    It sounds like Belmont Village Burbank should be reported to the proper authorities. They must not have adequate workmen's comp if they are confining your mom to bed for this reason! Maybe you could insist they get a hospital bed for her if she doesn't have one and one with one of those mattresses designed to prevent bedsores. They have a pressure regulator inside them I think. A friend of mine was recently hospitalized in a hospital and they had those special mattresses on the bed. Most patients are supposed to be up as much as possible to prevent bedsores and pneumonia, I thought. It could be they like your mom and don't want to lose her rent!

    After seeing how the food and other amenities went down while my mother was there, this makes me very angry and I pray you have the strength to put your mother's well-being first and the hell with Belmont Village. Maybe another similar type of facility would meet her needs without having Work Comp issues with their staff!

    I know my mom liked it there and it was heartbreaking for her to know she couldn't return because they were not set up for those needing oxygen. My sister moved her to a very outdated nursing home with rooms barely adequate for two patients and there was not even room for a tv there for her to enjoy in the little time she had left!

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    Looks like a great place to live. I wonder how much this costs.