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Senior living facility expands

Licensing level allows addition more services

POSTED: July 13, 2012 3:00 a.m.
Jim Dean/

Vince Lindley, community developer, points out the area where a fishing dock is planned at Gracemont Assisted Living & Memory Care. A 39,000-square-foot expansion will open at the senior living facility in next few months.

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A senior living facility in north Forsyth soon will open its first major expansion.

Gracemont Assisted Living & Memory Care, located on Jot Em Down Road near Ga. 400, is slated to open a new 39,000-square-foot assisted living facility within the next few months.

“Our final construction is just about completed,” said Fred Youngman, one of three directors at the facility. “The state fire marshal will do his inspection … and reports will go to the department of community health.”

He said the second phase of the facility will provide space for up to 86 new residents.

Youngman explained a new Georgia licensing level was recently added that will also allow the new facility to provide expanded services.

The existing phase, he said, is licensed as a “personal care” facility, while the new phase will fall under “assisted living.”

There is also a third level in Georgia called “skilled nursing,” which is what most nursing homes fall under.

“We’ll be able to take residents that require maybe a little more care than we’re allowed to care for in a personal care home, but they don’t need a skilled nursing facility,” he said of the new facility.

The first phase of Gracemont, which is also about 39,000 square feet, opened on June 1, 2011.

It is at capacity, providing a home to 86 residents. Youngman said the facility has been full almost since its opening.

“There’s been a tremendous need here in this area,” he said. “I’ve had a waiting list. This building filled up within 90 days of opening last year and it’s remained full.”

The facility offers a range of amenities, including private suites that residents furnish with their own belongings from home, a hair salon and plated restaurant-style meals.

“It looks very much like a hotel and that’s by design,” Youngman said. “We try to run it very much like a high-end hotel.”

The facility employs about 30 people, but with the new phase that number will more than double.

“We have about a 1-to-15 staff-to-resident ratio … and on our memory care area, that’s about a 1-to-9 ratio because those folks tend to need a little more care,” Youngman said.

Vince Lindley, who owns the facility with wife Pat, said Gracemont is different from nursing homes and some other assisted living facilities because of the focus on residents and their families.

“Families can eat with them as much as they want,” he said. “Families can go out on activities with them. We’re constantly having family get-togethers days, party days. Every holiday is a big party … it’s for families and residents. We’ve set it up that way.

“We want [residents] to spend the time with their loved ones as much as they want.”

Barbara Kemp is glad of that.

Her husband of 60 years, Earl, had to move to the facility about eight months ago after his Alzheimer’s disease worsened.

“I’m very glad I don’t have to drive to Atlanta every day,” she said. “I come regularly, not every day, but almost every day.”

She praised the staff for their support during such a difficult transition.

“They’re very cooperative and they work with you if you do have a problem,” she said. “I’ve even had the owner’s wife hug me as I leave because I’d be in tears, so they are very loving and caring.”

Resident Sharon Arneson moved into Gracemont with husband Henry in February.

“We had a house in Dawsonville and we really did not want to move,” she said. “But I’m on dialysis three times a week and my husband is starting to show signs of dementia and it was to the point where I realized — and the family had started to realize — that we couldn’t handle it on our own.”

She said her daughter discovered Gracemont. On her first visit, Arneson was impressed.

“I walked in and my first reaction was, ‘It’s not like a nursing home at all.’ I was really, really turned off by nursing homes,” she said.

“Since then, it’s turned out to be everything that I was looking for, that I needed … We came here and there were people to talk to and the residents are lovely, the staff is wonderful. I love the place and I’m totally happy here.”

 

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