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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

New Skilled Nursing Facility Fills Void in Region

Thousand Oaks is home to the newest assisted living and skilled nursing facility to open in Ventura County. Called OakView, the new health center at the University Village retirement community recently had a ribbon-cutting celebration in light of its launch. Those behind the center, which offers 48 apartments and a memory support program in its assisted living unit and 48 beds in private or semi-private rooms in its skilled nursing facility, say that it is exactly what every continuing care retirement community (CRRC) needs. “When we go out to build a (CRRC), we know we’re going to build assisted living, Alzheimer’s care and skilled nursing care,” said Warren Spieker, vice president of Continuing Life Communities in Carlsbad, the company that owns University Village. “In our opinion, residents don’t ever have to move again. If you remove any of those components, they have to move when they need care.” Blaine Schull, 85, agrees. For now, Schull and his, wife, Marian, 79, live in the independent component of University Village, but the couple said that the addition of an assisted living and skilled nursing facility in the retirement community puts them at ease. “You’re not anxious to go through that again,” Blaine Schull said of moving. He and his wife lived in Palos Verdes Estates for 46 years. “It’s a lot more than the physical move. In our own case, when we helped the family members that needed some special care that we could no longer provide, if we waited to the last minute, it was very difficult to find a place that made them happy.” One reason for this could be because of the dearth of such facilities as well as retirement communities. According to Spieker, University Village, which opened last August, is the only CRRC between Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara area. “And, frankly, we’re probably the largest in the L.A. area,” he said. “If you were to look at all of our communities, ours are larger than others. Our philosophy is we don’t think you should build small CCRCs.” Retirement communities may be hard to find, but skilled nursing facilities just aren’t being built, Spieker said. It’s a trend being played out throughout the nation due to the cost of building them. “It’s extraordinarily expensive,” Spieker said. “It’s the highest level of care and, frankly, it’s not profitable, so no one wants to build it. If you asked us as a company to do it as a standalone, we wouldn’t do it. Neither would most people.” OakView’s skilled nursing unit offers specialized nursing, IV therapy, wound care, pain management and rehabilitative services. As a component of a retirement community, such a facility can be profitable, Spieker believes. “What’s important for our residents is should they need skilled nursing, they are in the same environment, but they’re just getting additional care,” Spieker said. With OakView, which has been open for a few months, the goal was not to make residents feel as if they were living in an institution. Instead, rooms in the facility resemble those of a hotel. “We used the same interior director we used on the independent side,” Spieker explained. Because it can be difficult to find such facilities, the elderly being moved into them often resent being relocated, and the younger people responsible for moving them tend to feel guilty, Schull believes. When the Schulls moved into University Village, however, there were no unpleasant feelings, Blaine Schull said. “Our children approve of this unanimously,” he said. “It’s a happy situation, and (University Village) have created an environment that welcomes grandchildren.” In Palos Verdes Estates, the Schulls served on community boards and commissions, forming what Blaine Schull described as “a jillion connections.” During the near year they have lived in University Village, however, the couple has found it easy to make more connections. Blaine Schull hopes that that his health remains good and he won’t need the services of OakView’s assisted living or skilled nursing unit. Should that change, though, he approves of University Village’s offerings. For example, if only one spouse was affected by an illness, that spouse could remain in independent living while the other remained nearby in assisted living, Schull said. “We have had some experience with health support facilities with our family members,” he said. “The facility here is the best we have seen period for assisted living or dementia or 24-hour nursing. It is clean, spacious graceful, etc. We haven’t lived there, and we hope we never do, but it’s there as a backup.”

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