The IPA guided us in determining how we could create households with the resources we already had … it led us to a basic outline of what we could do, where we could do it and how it would look financially.”
Creating households at Samaritan Bethany, Inc., in Rochester, MN, demanded tough, sometimes painful choices that could have led the organization to settle for less. But instead, an Integrated Prefeasibility Analysis (IPA) led in 2008 by consultants and Meadowlark Household Services (now known as Action Pact Development) kept stakeholders focused on priorities so they could achieve what they really wanted, says Sue Knutson, Mission Leader.
Conversion to the Household Model and private rooms for all nursing home residents living on two campuses – these were the priorities set by staff, residents, management and others who met in strategic planning sessions held prior to the IPA.
“You want it all, but reality always slaps you in the face,” says Knutson. “Whatever preconceived notion you had may not be possible.”
The IPA’s financial forecasting model signaled that nursing home residents would have to be consolidated onto one campus (Home on Eighth) to make private rooms in households possible for everyone. The other campus, Samaritan Bethany Heights built in 1981with 120 beds, would eventually be closed.
“We never in our wildest dreams thought we would lose that campus … accepting that it would be gone some day was one of our biggest challenges,” says Knutson. But Shields “kept bringing us back to our priorities … He said, "look at your strategic plan, this is what residents and staff say is important to them.’”
The process inspired stakeholders to think beyond their comfort level and look at other possibilities … options they never knew existed before interacting with consultants during the IPA. Initially, Knutson adds, “We just wanted someone to hand our households to us on a silver platter, but it doesn’t happen that way …it is not a cookie-cutter approach.”
The organization’s commitment to converting the old institutional model to households began with a board retreat followed by a weeklong strategic planning session with staff, residents and other stakeholders. During the board retreat, Shields posed this question: “Would you want to live in the Samaritan Bethany nursing homes?”
“You couldn’t get me to move into any of them,” responded Knutson, to the group’s amazement.
“It was kind of our ‘Ah-Hah’ moment … when leadership says ‘I don’t want to live here, to share a room or bathroom, to go down the hall to take my shower,’ we knew it was time to do something,” recalls Knutson.
The physical plant already needed work, so they vowed that if they were going to invest in renovation anyway, they should create a home where they would want to live. “That’s why it has a pub – because we wanted one,” says Knutson.
As of this writing, Samaritan Bethany’s 10 households at Home on Eighth are eight months old, though renovation continues. Samaritan Bethany Heights remains open until renovation is complete.
Though issues addressed during the IPA were sometimes emotionally trying, “I wouldn’t do it any other way,” says Knutson. “I highly recommend (the prefeasibility analysis) because it really gave us the basis for moving forward, and they (Action Pact Development consultants) have seen it all or have already developed it. They bring a wide range of expertise you wouldn’t get from your local architect or general contractor.” Otherwise, “An architect can come in and draw beautiful things on a piece of paper, but it doesn’t mean you can afford it,” she concludes.
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