Dutch culture is a big deal in Pella. And that’s why it’s a big deal at Hearthstone, a nontraditional residential living community for seniors in Pella.
Hearthstone, built in 2013, is designed as five separate households, called “Cottages.” Each Cottage offers a comforting home-like atmosphere for the residents who live there and their families.
The Cottages have colorful finishes, an open kitchen concept, sunrooms and living room fireplaces that create a comfortable home-like environment for seniors. The public spaces are filled with donated art, furniture and other objects from Holland. It’s a new approach to senior living that’s working well in Pella.
We caught up with Executive Director Nancy Hamilton to learn more about the success of Pella Hearthstone.
Tell us what makes Hearthstone special and how it differs from traditional senior care facilities.
It was very important to do our research to figure out how long-term care has transitioned in senior care in the last 20-30 years. We wanted to be innovative with that process when we built the Cottages. We wanted it to be an environment for residents living in smaller household models, 16 residents each. The residents should have team members that know them and they can rely on. It really is about our relationships with families, residents and team members and the opportunity we have to know our residents and provide that specialized care.
What has the reaction been to Hearthstone and what it offers?
As a senior living community, people are not expecting nicely decorated households and small living spaces where people can really be at home. After we do tours at the Cottage, people often say things like, “Well, where’s the nursing home?” We’ll say, “Well, you’ve already been in it.” They say that because it does feel like home. Each individual house is different than the next.
Why is it important to change from the traditional senior care setting?
There’s a lot of research that shows traditional long-term care may make seniors become institutionalized. When you provide a home, instead of a clinical setting, they’re more engaged in that meaningful and purposeful living. Small houses and household models are so much better for our residents. We see better nutritional intake because we’re cooking in front of our residents. It’s also a smaller footprint than a traditional setting. Our residents become more functionally independent.
How does Hearthstone place emphasis on the relationship with the Pella community?
Pella is a very proud community. We have our Dutch heritage and we’re always doing our best to take things to the next level. For the Pella community, we’ve formed great partnerships. We have students from the high school come in to train as CNAs. Students from nearby colleges who are interested in the nursing field will visit with us. We want to give back to our greater community, too. We have done random acts of kindness, Brownies on the Square, Diapers for Haiti and The Color Run. Hearthstone wants our residents to feel like they’re giving back and they have plenty of opportunities to do so.
Your partnership with MidWestOne has helped to bring more to Hearthstone. Tell us about your experience with them.
With our initial planning we wanted local partners who had a great sense of giving to help fund the project. MidWestOne stepped up. They had the same passion for seniors and providing for those that have provided for us over the years. They became our lead bank and our lead donor for the project. MidWestOne set that standard for other community givers and helped us provide the setting we wanted to for our residents. They’re always involved in community events. They’ve been a great partner for us.