Three new assisted-living facilities are in various stages of development between Kenai and Soldotna as developers try to address a local need for senior services.
Two of the facilities, one in Soldotna and one in Kenai, will be built by the same developer, Rob Nash of Riverside Assisted Living LLC. The third is being developed by Clint Hall of Hall Quality Builders in Kenai.
Rachael Craig, Director of the City of Kenai Senior Citizen’s Department, which operates the city’s senior center and housing, said both developers approached her to find out if there was a need for assisted living in Kenai.
“Our seniors here in our area, since the day I walked in the door, have wanted to see assisted living,” Craig said. “They would love to see assisted living on our campus, but that’s not going to happen. It’s been hard because lot of our homesteaders want to stay in our area they want to stay in our community. They couldn’t understand why, when they needed to go into assisted living they had to go as far away as Homer. I’ve known people that have had to go to Anchorage.”
Currently, Kenai provides senior housing, but it is for independent seniors.
“Sometimes you reach a point where that’s not possible, that it may not be the best situation,” Craig said. “If a person stays within their community and goes to assisted living, to me they’re better off than having to leave the area and going into a nursing home.”
There are at least 125 people on the waiting list for Kenai’s independent housing, Craig said.
Alaska’s 65 and older population is expected to grow faster than any other portion of the state’s population, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s population projections for 2010 to 2035.
Craig said Alaska’s senior population is growing faster than any other state and assisted living could help bridge the gap between independent living and nursing home care.
The key, Craig said, is to provide seniors with different levels of care that encourage independence.
Nash, whose 48-bed facility is slated for an April 1, 2013 opening, said the facilities he is building provide amenities for seniors who don’t want to be in a nursing home, but can no longer support themselves.
“We have a responsibility as a society to care for our seniors who helped build this country and community,” he said. “The grace and dignity for seniors is something that we’re really sensitive too.”
Nash said his assisted living facilities would offer help to seniors who needed help with their medication, nutrition or bathing but didn’t need full time medical care.
“We also offer adult day care which is just a huge need,” he said. “Some seniors just aren’t quite ready to commit to assisted living, but when their son or daughter is the caretaker they can come and drop them off for the full day or two or three hours.”
He said the Soldotna facility would probably begin taking reservations in November as he’s had inquiries about when people reserve space.
Kenai City Council Member Bob Molloy said there have been attempts to build assisted living facilities within the Kenai city limits but those had failed.
“Now we’re going to have two which gives us something like the potential for 60 apartments,” he said. “Right now we don’t have that and in a year we may have sufficient space.”
Nash said Molloy had been instrumental in helping his company find property in Kenai to build a new facility.
While the Soldotna facility at 390 Lovers Lane and Hall’s facility at 701 North Forest Drive in Kenai are in varying phases of construction, the third facility has yet to break ground.
Riverside Assisted Living has signed purchasing paperwork for the Anchor Trailer Park, 1823 Kenai Spur Highway, and Nash said the sale should be closed Tuesday.
Nash said his group’s Kenai facility will be between 29,000 to 31,000 square feet and should be comparable in size it its Soldotna facility.
“Alaskans are Alaskans and they’re staying,” he said. “This is where they’re from, this is where their friends and family are,” Nash said. “Our assisted livings are ... based in not taking the place of the family but in supporting the family in the care of these beloved seniors.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.