Christian Homes, Inc: Tim Phillippe, Chief Executive Officer

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The second largest not-for-profit senior healthcare center in the U.S. began as a 48-bed nursing home in 1962 in Lincoln, Illinois. Christian Homes now operates 16 campuses in five states, including Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. They serve approximately 3,000 residents. Approximately half of those residents require skilled nursing care. Christian Homes has more than 300 supporting churches and thousands of volunteers each year coming from those churches to serve in the organization.

“We are working diligently to stay up to date and to meet the changing needs of the seniors of the future,” Tim Phillippe, CEO of Christian Homes since 2001, said. “Our campus environment looks more social in model. We provide healthcare in places that look more like housing, apartment living or studios. We also provide more independence, freedom and choice for the residents.”

Resident-Driven Programming

“We probably face the same issues as most people in our field right now,” Phillippe said. “The needs and expectations of the elderly are changing rapidly. They are growing in number and have more chronic health issues than they have had in the past. The people we serve come to campus with more acute health issues and more chronic types of conditions. Adapting our program for clinical excellence is important.”

The previous generation of seniors was known as the Silent Generation.

“Those were people who were more easily satisfied, less demanding, more loyal and trusting,” Phillippe said.

This up-and-coming population of seniors, the Baby Boomers, however, have higher expectations and expect a strong role in controlling their own lifestyle through their senior years. Christian Homes has been working to meet this demand by creating more programs with strong resident councils. As much as is possible, the residents are in charge of determining the lifestyle, the activities and the programs offered on campus.

“We need to have more program flexibility because choice is very important,” Phillippe said.

Changing the Look of the Hospital Environment

Typical long-term care in Midwest has looked much like hospitals from the 1960s and 70s–two people to a room evenly spaced on each side of a long corridor.

Just like hospitals, senior living and senior care facilities have been remodeling, “even more rapidly to try to look more like a home environment,” Phillippe said. “We have units with carpet and flat panel televisions. They look like studio apartments with a microwave, phone, separate dining areas and smaller wings in a home-like setting. Everything can be geared more to the individual, rather than the large group.”

Private rooms are standard even in skilled nursing areas now. Assisted and independent living might be built as duplex garden homes where maintenance and landscaping are part of the package. As most seniors want more and bigger spaces than were once standard, two-bedroom apartments are now common for assisted living spaces, as well.

But more important than space and aesthetics, the emphasis that permeates Christian Homes’ campuses is community. More than just building modern spaces for modern seniors, Phillippe said the goal is that people feel as if they are moving into a community, not just a room or an apartment.

“We have a really strong Christian component within our campuses,” he says. “Each of our campuses has a chaplain on staff and a full range of church-type activities, Bible studies and worship, along with pastoral care, which is so important for people who are sick.”

Seniors at Home

“One of our residents said, ‘I don’t like it when people call this a facility. This is my home,’” Phillippe said. “People should feel that way. When you break the groups in skilled care into smaller communities, say a wing of 12 people, the staff working with them are dedicated to those residents. They get to know them. They also provide a lot more flexibility and choice. We can be flexible and do what the residents want to do. We can schedule activities that the residents themselves chose to have.

“We strive for compassionate, Christian care that aggressively meets the needs of our residents, for quality and for choice. Those are the two elements–quality and choice in a Christian environment.”

-by T.M. Simmons

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