When planning Encore more than a decade ago, we visited many assisted living communities. While we learned a lot, I found that one thing seemed to be missing, that was at the forefront of Encore’s design: community involvement. Even the most expensive assisted living communities cannot compare if they lack the integral component of being part of a community and that community being actively involved.
It has always been my vision to constantly evaluate and improve the services and care we provide at Encore. With that in mind, shortly after we opened Encore in 2015, we invited a top executive of a well-known senior care company to visit and give us his opinion on our building, care and programming. I was pleased when he announced that he was impressed with the management, care, food, layout of the rooms, etc. But then he said one thing that still sticks with me to this day, “I am not sure if you can succeed with Encore at this location, it is surrounded by young families.” He continued, “When our company plans new facilities, we look for an older demographic and you do not have that.” As a long-time entrepreneur I am used to fixing problems, and anything I could change, but of course not the location of Encore. And with full conviction, I did not want to. I continued to believe that the location of Encore was a strength and not a weakness as indicated by the industry-leader.
When it came to the design of the Encore building it was important to our entire team to include a space where people could gather. After all, when you gather you begin to feel like you belong, and that is where the foundation for a healthy community begins. That space was named, Carnegie Hall, and from the onset it was designed to serve as a meeting room and event space where families, neighbors and friends could meet and interact. And while this was a costly component to the building and very unique to a senior living community, we felt it imperative that this feature should not be “value engineered” out of the building. Value is measure more than just financially. We know that to provide a high value to our residents and the community at large, this space would be important and could serve as a heart of the community. I believe that we were right, and I still think of Encore as the “Town Hall” of Avalon Park.
Everyday community organizations such as the American Legion, Jet Setters, Rotary Club of Avalon Park, Boy Scouts, and public-school groups, just to name a few, use Carnegie Hall as meeting and event space. By doing so they not only meet our residents, but they interact and form relationships. It is such a joy to see young and old meeting and sharing life experience. Even when our building had visitation restrictions for health and safety throughout the COVID pandemic, these organizations still found a way through technology and other creative means to interact with the residents.
I always wondered why one would not want to have their mom or grandfather close to them. With today’s urban sprawl, families are often hours apart from each other, but this is not the case in Avalon Park. Families have options for all ages to live a full and abundant life in the same community, all while being close to each other. You can live with your family and if a family member who needs assistance to live a full life, they have options just a few blocks away! We have daughters and sons who live in Avalon Park and have loved ones at Encore and visit them every day. Grandkids who go to school in Avalon are just a stroll away from there great grandfather. By and large most Encore residents have strong ties to Avalon Park, either having lived themselves in the community or by moving to Encore to live closer to loved ones. That was the vision, and it was fulfilled.
I believe that one of the most important elements in a healthy town is that it is open to all ages. Currently, the oldest resident at Encore is 104 years old and just last week, our youngest resident was born in Avalon Park, which means that the span of life in our community is more than 100 years! I continue to believe assisted living communities, like Encore, are a great place for individuals who need care. However, like anything in Avalon, care is not exclusive to those considered as seniors.
As I mentioned before we are always looking at ways to improve our care and programming and even as I write this, we are working on initiatives to provide a broader spectrum of care to an even wider population of all ages, who need daily care as a part of a community. I firmly believe that like Avalon Park at large, Encore will as well become a complete community for people of all ages who need assistance.