Health Care

Remodel begins at Masonic Home

The Kansas Masonic Home is embarking on a $5.1 million project to remodel its skilled nursing unit so that it's less like a hospital setting and more like a "neighborhood."

The remodeling will decrease the overall number of beds but provide a better quality of life for residents, said Jill Laffoon, director of marketing.

Work began a week ago, when residents helped tear down central nursing stations on each of the nursing unit's two floors.

Each floor will have two "neighborhoods." Each of those four areas will have a living room, kitchen, dining area and laundry, with residents' rooms around them.

One area will be for short-term rehabilitation and one will be for memory care, Laffoon said.

The design was completed with assistance from Anderson Knight Architects and Meadowlark Household Services, both of Manhattan. Meadowlark Household Services is a consulting service that grew from Meadowlark Hills, a continuing care retirement center in Manhattan that has served as a model for others.

The Masonic Home project will take about two years.

"We're going to try to do one wing at a time to try to minimize transition for people as much as possible," Laffoon said. "The big thing is to make sure it goes smoothly for our residents."

The Pavilion, as the nursing unit is called, has 120 beds. When the remodeling is complete, she said, it will have 88. In addition to creating the common areas, the renovation will enlarge patient rooms.

Laffoon said the Kansas Masonic Home's building services team will do part of the work. A general contractor is yet to be selected for the remaining work.

Taking out the central nursing stations was a way to demonstrate the change in philosophy that goes with the remodeling, Laffoon said — they were physical barriers between residents and staff. Without them, "there's more up-out-of-your-chair contact."

In addition to the skilled nursing unit, the Kansas Masonic Home has independent living and assisted living.

The Manor, the assisted living area, is scheduled for renovation when the Pavilion remodeling has been completed, Laffoon said.