Winchester Gardens: Greg Rogerino, President and Chief Executive Officer

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As the large number of baby boomers begins looking toward retirement, retirement communities need to reposition themselves to meet the expectations of this new group of residents. Winchester Gardens, located in Maplewood, New Jersey, understands this need perhaps better than most.

Begun in 1927 as a not-for-profit retirement community for “aged and respected bachelors and gentlemen,” Winchester Gardens has undergone drastic changes to become a continuing-care retirement community. The retirement community’s original developers focused on architecture and landscaping as part of a residential design. The current residence maintains the beauty and historic architecture in its 202 independent living units and 115 health-services units. Winchester Gardens also has 40 villas.

“We have repositioned many times and remain successful,” Greg Rogerino, President and Chief Executive Officer, said.  “We offer a continuum of care, and keep our designs flexible and appropriate for the current market.”

Meeting the needs of current residents in design and programming

In 1996, Winchester Gardens underwent renovation to become its current continuing-care retirement community and has continued to undergo design changes to meet the needs of its residents. Most units are anywhere from 750 square feet to 2000 square feet.

“Our residents are coming in at a point where they need a functional environment,” Rogerino said. “Residents want appropriate storage and lighting, ovens they don’t have to bend down to reach, a microwave that is not too high, and functional, yet spacious closets.”

Most recently, Winchester Gardens renovated units to provide these features to residents. Rogerino said maintaining the aesthetics and functionality of the units is an ongoing priority for the organization.

“We continually reinvest about $2 million every year into the basics – environmental issues, redecorating, upgrading, renovating,” he said.

In addition to functional design, incoming residents want flexibility and engaging programming. Rogerino said the organization has been working to offer more dining options and more activities.

“Residents want to be active and have participatory recreation programs,” he said. “They enjoy taking a bus into New York City, seeing a play, exercising. A lot of our residents have personal trainers.”

Providing quality services

In addition to making residents feel comfortable and engaged, providing quality service throughout the continuum of care is also essential for Winchester Gardens. Some residents are reluctant to enter the community, especially in today’s housing market. Most people need to sell their homes before moving in.

“I always hear people say they don’t want to leave their homes, but within about two weeks of moving in they seem to be extremely happy and comfortable,” Rogerino said. “They seem to most enjoy the connections they build with other residents.”

The continuing care model also offers security to residents, and Rogerino said keeping the residents involved in their care is critical. Someone moving into Winchester Gardens can start in independent living and move into additional care up to skilled nursing or an Alzheimer’s unit as their needs change.

“Our residents will never be in a situation where there is an emergency and they have to make a quick decision to leave their home and move into a skilled-nursing or assisted-living facility,” he said.

Communication and appropriate programming are two keys to maintaining resident satisfaction.

“We don’t want anyone to come in and think they are going to be moved through the continuum arbitrarily or without input,” he said. Rogerino noted that residents are entering the community at older ages, and one challenge has been to ensure that the independent living units and programming meets the physical needs of these residents.

“I think we have been ahead of the curve in designing homes that are appropriate for people with physical limitations,” Rogerino said.

Winchester Gardens maintains high standards for quality care and is accredited by CARF-CCAC.

“You cannot lose focus on providing good quality care,” Rogerino said. “It’s not something you say ‘I’ve done it.’ It’s a relentless issue.”

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