A nonprofit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is hoping to soon provide services to the approximately 60,000 local seniors who live outside of its walls, through a new Institute on Aging.
Saint John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is establishing the institute, spurred by an initial commitment of $500,000 from the Saint John’s Foundation. The goal of the initiative is to create lasting solutions for chronic health conditions, discrimination and poverty among seniors living in the greater Milwaukee area, according to a press release.
The institute, which is expected to be housed in existing space on the Saint John’s campus and initially staffed by the CCRC’s employees, will forge local and national partnerships with health care institutions, community-based organizations, governmental agencies, and faith communities, in addition to research institutes and universities. Right now, Saint John’s is reaching out to “a long list of potential community partners to gauge their interest in the initiative,” the release states.
Saint John’s on the Lake has already formed a lasting partnership with the faculty and students at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM). A three-credit, introductory-level class for UWM undergraduates called “Aged to Perfection” is held once per week at Saint John’s on the Lake, with both college students and CCRC residents taking part.
The idea to create the Institute on Aging was inspired, in part, by the success of that class—as well as the fact that the CCRC is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
“As we were contemplating planning for our [150th] anniversary celebration, we were very cognizant of the fact that the city of Milwaukee has been very supportive of us,” Renee Anderson, president and CEO of Saint John’s on the Lake, told Senior Housing News. “We wanted to acknowledge that, as well as extend our reach beyond our campus.”
Currently, Saint John’s on the Lake has 201 independent living apartments, 24 assisted living apartments and 50 skilled nursing suites. Once construction is finished on a new, 22-story tower, another 169 apartments—79 independent living, 50 skilled nursing, 24 assisted living and 16 “catered living”—will be on campus.
Though it’s committed to growth, Saint John’s intends to remain a single-site provider, Anderson said. The forthcoming Institute on Aging, she explained, will help the CCRC connect with a higher number local seniors, without building any more communities.
Most likely, the Institute on Aging will be a natural extension of the programming and activities Saint John’s on the Lake already offers, including its “Aged to Perfection” class and a once-yearly week-long symposium on aging.
In five years, Anderson hopes the Institute will “have a comprehensive plan to deliver services to 60,000-plus older adults living in Milwaukee County outside of a retirement community setting,” she said.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson