A senior living community for show business professionals will start to roll out the red carpet for the general public, as part of a large-scale renovation and repositioning.
Located in Englewood, NJ, The Actor’s Fund Home—also known as The Lillian Booth Actors Home—recently opened the doors to the Shubert Pavilion. The new wing brings an additional 25 subacute beds and 14 assisted-living beds to the home, in addition to a new rehabilitation center, to the existing 124-bed facility.
Currently, entertainers including vaudevillians, Ziegfeld Follies dancers and comedians call the community home. But despite its name, the Actors Home welcomes all types of show business professionals, Jordan Strohl, administrator, told Senior Housing News.
“The Actor’s Fund has a tremendously long history of taking care of people in the entertainment industry,” he said. “It’s all walks of life in entertainment—it can be someone from an actual actor and performer, to the behind-the-scenes [people like a] stagehand, lighting technician, or wardrobe attendant.”
A place to call home
The opening of the three-story Shubert Pavilion marks the mid-point of a capital campaign, called The Home Campaign, to rebuild, expand and preserve the Actors Home, which was established in 1902 for retired entertainers.
By the end of 2018, the campaign aims to add 25,000 square feet of new space, renovate the existing 30,000 square feet of resident space, as well as construct a new two-story building that will house a 20-bed memory care unit, add seven assisted-living beds, as well as a new medical suite, arts studio, dining room, bistro and memory care garden.
The Shubert Pavilion was made possible by a lead gift from The Shubert Organization, a theatrical production organization and a major owner of theaters in New York City, with additional support from the Walt Disney Company and The Mackintosh Foundation.
Currently, the community, as a whole, runs at 98% occupancy, according to Strohl.
To be eligible for admission, the resident must prove his/her professional eligibility, and must have worked in the entertainment industry for a minimum of 20 years, with annual earnings of at least $2,000 for 10 out of the 20 years, according to the Actors Home’s website.
However, for the first time in the Actors Home’s history, the community will be accommodating residents from the general population, explained Strohl.
“Because we built subacute beds, we will be relying on referrals from the community for the first time in the history of the home,” Strohl said. “When we don’t have the [subacute] beds filled with people in the entertainment industry, we’re going to be relying on local hospitals to keep the beds and the demand there.”
‘Taking care of your own’
The community thrives on the mantra of “taking care of your own,” as it welcomes retired entertainers, regardless of their ability to pay, with costs subsidized by the home’s non-profit parent company The Actors Fund of America.
“A lot of people think … [having a show business career means] a lot of glamour, they think it’s a lot of money, but unfortunately, that’s not the majority of our population,” Strohl said. “That’s not the people that come into our facility. A lot of our residents that come in, they’re either Medicaid or Medicaid pending.”
In fact, while its payer mix is includes private pay residents as well as residents on Medicare, an average of 68% of residents are on Medicaid, he explained.
The home is focused on providing patient-centered care, according to Strohl. In addition to providing Alzheimer’s and dementia care based on the program established by Phoenix, Arizona-based dementia care education and research group Comfort Matters, the community stays cognizant of its residents’ special needs.
It prides itself on providing care to LGBT residents, with some same-sex couples calling the community home.
“The biggest way we handle their unique needs is they’re all individuals. Just like any of our residents, they all have specific needs and wants,” Strohl said.
This is especially true for the community’s LGBT residents who may be living with special health needs, like those living with HIV/AIDS.
“For us, that’s just all part of what we do and who we are,” Strohl said. “It’s [about] proper in-service training of our staff. At the end of the day, someone who is HIV-positive should have the same quality of life.”
As the Actors Home embarks on its expansion projects, this mission- and person-centered mentality is the driver to its delivery for care, according to Strohl.
“Our residents themselves are very unique. They have unique qualities, they have unique characteristics, they’re charismatic because of being on stage—we really cater to that,” Strohl said. “We allow our residents to be their own individual. We allow the resident to come to the facility and embrace who they are.”
Written by Carlo Calma