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.
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.
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!
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.