Methodist Manor, Ready Set Grow team up to open SL day care site
Methodist Manor Retirement Community and Ready, Set, Grow! have announced a partnership to provide a community day care in Storm Lake. Responding to a deep need in the area, the facility based at Methodist Manor could serve as many as 50 children at a time, and will likely open in 2019.
Ready, Set, Grow! Learning Center began operating out of the old Alta High School in August 2016. The day care currently serves 36 children (part-time and full-time) and has a waiting list. Based upon the success of the Alta location, and the tremendous need for additional day care options in Storm Lake; Ready, Set, Grow began to look at possibilities of expanding its operation. As Methodist Manor completes construction of the new nursing facility and transfers residents over, the remaining A-Hall wing of the existing facility could be opened to possibilities for future use.
Senior facilities and childrens facilities have been partnered elsewhere in the country with great sucess, which led to discussion between MM and RSG. Organizers cite a well documented success of Mount St. Vincent nursing home in Seattle. A day care at Mount St. Vincent was born from their initial vision to create “a village” on their campus.
Residents and children have taken everything in stride and Mount St. Vincent has seen their program grow to serving 125 kids, with a waiting list exceeding 400 families. Structured activities between the two groups are offered five days each week. Studies have shown that the social interactions are linked with decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of disease and death in the elders. Staff at the facility have noticed “a complete transformation in the presence of the children. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive.”
Intergenerational interactions have enhanced children’s social and personal development. Children become comfortable with elderly people at an early age. They become more accepting of people with disabilities, learn about the aging process and get unconditional love from the doting residents. The kids learn that sometimes, adults need help too.
One resident commented, “I am a great-grandmother, but they are in another town. I can’t hold my own little girl because she’s far away. And so this is what makes me happy. You get to know them, and watch them, and act silly with them.”
The final factor for Ready, Set, Grow! and Methodist Manor Retirement Community was touring the Audubon nursing home, where The Children’s Nest Day Care is also located. The Children’s Nest opened in August of 2015, after an old residential care wing of the nursing home was remodeled into four different age group rooms for children. “Audubon faced challenges that were very similar to the circumstances that we face in Storm Lake; a community that is the county seat but does not have a community day care,” organizers of the local project said. “The wing where the Children’s Nest is located has a layout almost identical to what was proposed for a concept at Methodist Manor. Touring the building, seeing how the space was renovated, and reviewing how the day care and nursing home functioned was an eye opening experience that made MMRC and RSG understand how to turn this concept into a reality for Storm Lake.”
Several heartfelt stories of how their partnership works really hit home with MMRC and RSG staff as to how both the kids and the residents develop lasting relationships. The Children’s Nest has three scheduled activities per week with the nursing home, as well as a number of spontaneous events. One child and resident have developed such a close connection; that a few times per week a staff member will take the child up to be with the resident and they end up taking a 30 minute afternoon nap in the recliner. Multiple times each day infants and toddlers are put in a stroller to just walk the halls and say hi to whoever wants to visit. The staff may get asked to take the shoes off of an infant so that a resident can tickle their feet. Children are always excited to go over and visit their “grandfriends” and play games.
After residents move to the new nursing facility in the summer of 2018, a second phase of the project at Methodist Manor will begin with the demolition of the other three existing wings and adding parking. Work to renovate will occur after the second phase is completed. Ready, Set, Grow! intends to convert rooms in A-Hall into four age specific classrooms. Based upon square footage requirements by DHS, RSG hopes to be able to get a license for approximately 40 children (when considering part-time children as well, RSG would potentially serve more than 50 children in Storm Lake.
Katie Meyer, Director of RSG, said, “We are thrilled about this opportunity with Methodist Manor. It seems like just yesterday we were fundraising to get Ready Set Grow! off the ground... fast forward to today, we have an established day care that has minimized the daycare gap. We have collaborated with a local establishment (Methodist Manor) which means an expansion of our current operations. This further minimizes the daycare gap in Storm Lake which so greatly needs quality daycare options. It means a partnership of two communities and two operations. It’s an improvement of care for children and residents. It’s a win, win, win, win situation.”
Emily Bodholdt, president of RSG Board of Directors, agrees. “I am so very excited for this partnership between Methodist Manor and Ready, Set, GROW! I feel the benefits of this partnership will be great for both the young and old alike. We are honored to be able to provide another childcare option for our area, and especially one that will be unique because of our coordination of activities between the children of RSG and the residents of Methodist Manor. The children will benefit by having a safe, welcoming environment to play and learn, and we hope the residents of Methodist Manor will find continued joy and happiness from the coordinated activities with the children of RSG.”
Nick Landgraf, CEO of Methodist Manor Retirement Community. noted that a community day care has been a great need for Storm Lake since The Gingerbread House closed in 2010. “There are a number of great in-home day care providers in Storm Lake, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of a community our size. Our most popular events at Methodist Manor are those that involve children – whether it is kids coming to trick or treat, performing songs for an upcoming concert, or a class coming to play games; our residents appreciate the opportunities to interact with those younger groups. This agreement provides MMRC with an outstanding opportunity to provide multiple events each week and evolve from being a nursing home to a living center within the community.”