Renovations are felt in the new long-term care model at Peabody Place
Peabody Place, a freshly renovated assisted living facility in Franklin, could easily be mistaken for a luxury hotel.
The three-story building features a granite and brick facade, large mansion windows, and views of the Winnipesauke River. But Howie Chandler, the facility’s executive director, is more excited about what the new building represents: a new model of long-term care.
He said as residents moved from the original 80-year-old facility to the new building in April, care staff at Peabody Place would stop worrying about care needs. health and would focus on a meaningful, even fun lifestyle.
“People don’t usually think about long-term care and pleasure, but that’s really our goal,” he said.
Residents will enjoy private bedrooms and attached bathrooms, which Chandler says are essential to maintaining dignity.
The facility has also made small changes to floor plans to give residents as much control over their lives as possible. Although all meals are cooked and served at the property, each room is equipped with a refrigerator, allowing residents to control when and what they eat.
“That doesn’t sound like much, but control is so, so important,” he said.
Residents will also have the opportunity to help around the facility, whether it’s cooking, cleaning or organizing events. While it’s often easier for staff to quickly accomplish these tasks on their own, he said the opportunity to help gives meaning to a resident’s daily schedule, one of the most most important for longevity, he said.
Construction of the new 63,632 square foot facility is being funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Fund. When completed, Peabody Place will more than double its capacity and include 45 assisted living apartments, 13 memory care apartments and 16 independent living apartments.
Facilities include a common area for congregating on all floors, a 24-hour emergency response system, memory care services, personal transportation services, a beauty and hair salon, a exercise and wellness room and easy access to downtown Franklin.
The renovation is welcome news at a difficult time for long-term care facilities. Assisted living facilities have struggled over the past two years with COVID-19 outbreaks and severe staff shortages.
On average, New Hampshire nursing homes only have about three-quarters of their available beds filled with residents, Williams said. It’s not because people don’t need long-term care, it’s because facilities can’t find licensed workers to staff many of their beds, which takes up a lot of their off-site spaces. line.
Staffing shortages in nursing homes have long been a problem in New Hampshire. Low Medicaid reimbursement rates in the state make it difficult for facilities to keep salaries competitive.
Between March 2020 and December 2021, 4,425 practical nurses let their licenses expire while only 4,003 new licenses were issued, ultimately creating a loss of 422 LNAs, according to data from the NH Commission on Aging.
“We just can’t grow that frontline workforce fast enough,” Williams said.
Williams said nursing homes and hospitals — desperate for a shortage of registered nurses — are all clamoring for the same few medical staff who parachute in from faraway states to fill empty shifts.
Each interested party pushes the agency’s asking prices higher and higher until nurses’ hourly rates are three or four times what a facility would pay its regular staff.
In order to maintain federally required staff-to-resident ratios, nursing homes often rely on temporary nurses to fill their shifts. Proponents say recruiting agencies seized on a moment of desperation and hiked prices exponentially in recent months. Institutions are being forced to pay high prices, even if it means they can no longer afford to care for as many residents.
“Hospitals and nursing homes are being held hostage by recruitment agencies,” Williams said. “You might as well hand over a blank check if you want to get an RN.”