Last week, stakeholders in Macon County sat down with representatives with Givens Communities to discuss potential future uses for the former Angel Medical Center building.
Teresa Stephens with Givens Communities began the meeting by introducing a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the feasibility study being used to determine the next steps for the former hospital building.
With community stakeholders offering input on Macon County’s most significant needs, concerns about access to affordable housing, senior housing, and childcare continued to surface to the forefront of issues plaguing the community. From the importance of housing to help those suffering from mental health or substance use issues to the economic importance of affordable childcare options to ensure a strong, sustainable workforce, the former Angel Medical Center facility was discussed as a creative solution to meet those needs.
Community leaders noted that both senior and workforce housing are both critical needs for not just Franklin, but all of Macon County. Affordable housing is critically needed for current residents and people moving back to the area due to the current housing market preventing people from being able to both live and work in the area. Ideally, additional affordable senior housing may free up other housing in the area, as seniors move into more affordable and easier-to-maintain apartments.
While several options for the former hospital facility were discussed, one interesting option would be to convert the space to function as both senior housing and a childcare facility.
Childcare and assisted living facilities play important roles in the lives of families, particularly in rural communities where resources can be limited. Colocating these facilities can serve as a solution for both groups, providing benefits such as convenience, support, and intergenerational connections.
For decades, researchers have studied care programs for children and older adults that share the same building or campus, and foster relationships across generations. Although shared sites vary widely, the most common model pairs preschools with adult daycare or nursing homes. Research shows that intergenerational shared sites increase the health and well-being of both young and older participants, reduce social isolation, and create cost efficiencies.
Colocating childcare facilities and assisted living facilities can also be a cost-effective solution for communities, particularly in rural areas where resources may be limited. Public-private partnerships can play a crucial role in making these projects feasible, by bringing together the resources and expertise of both the public and private sectors. These partnerships can help to secure funding and support for the construction and operation of the facilities, making it possible to provide quality care to more families in need.
In Seattle, Washington, the Providence Mount St. Vincent, an elder adult living facility, shares space with Mount’s Intergenerational Learning Center, a licensed nonprofit child care center and preschool. The two populations meet regularly.
Jenks Elementary School in Oklahoma is housed in a large complex that includes a senior living facility. Seniors here have multiple opportunities to volunteer in the classrooms.
When the community in Swampscott, Massachusetts, needed a new high school and senior center, the county built a structure that could hold both. Today, both populations share the space and often engage in joint activities.
A new Harris Poll commissioned for Generations United and The Eisner Foundation and conducted online between Feb. 27 and March 1, 2018, showed that the majority of those polled believed the government should allocate tax dollars to help programs that bring together older adults and youth.
89% believe serving both children/youth and older adults at the same location is a good use of resources.
82% would support their tax dollars going towards the creation of a facility that serves both children/youth and older adults in their community.
79% believe the government should invest in programs that bring those groups together.
73% believe the government should appoint a person/group of people specifically responsible for creating opportunities (e.g., facilities, programs) for children/youth and older adults to come together.
Last week’s meeting at the Franklin Town Hall was one step in the feasibility study process. With the information gathered last week, the feasibility study will be completed and presented to the Franklin Town Council in the coming months, which will ultimately determine the future of the former Angel Medical Center facility.