Community care center hosts open house


Staff Writer

Vashon Community Care Center will open its doors for a community party on Friday to share new initiatives it is embarking on and to show off recent improvements to the facility.

The initiatives — which will extend the care center’s services out into the community — are the result of a recent strategic planning process that took place last fall, according to Susan Tuller, administrator of the care center.

“Our mission had been focused on honoring relationships, bringing the community in and getting us out into the community,” she said, reflecting on the five years since Vashon Community Care Center (VCCC) moved into its new building.

“We asked, ‘Where do we want to be next?’” Tuller said.

In a strategic planning process last fall, people from Vashon HouseHold and the Vashon-Maury Senior Center joined VCCC board and staff to look ahead and assess the needs of seniors on the Island as a whole, not just at VCCC, Tuller said.

“What do elders on the Island need? And what do we need to do to be that?” members of the group asked, according to Tuller.

The answers are varied and include in-home care and services, meals, socialization opportunities and transportation, she said.

The Seattle Foundation awarded VCCC a $15,000 grant for the strategic planning process, Tuller said.

The money will pay for a private consultant to facilitate the process and will allow VCCC to pay staff when it comes time to train for and implement the new programs.

Two groups have been convened to work on researching the needs of the community and creating an action plan to meet those needs.

“By June we want to have identified what we want to do and be moving forward,” Tuller said, stressing that VCCC will be collaborating with other people and agencies to provide those services.

Like at many nursing homes, VCCC’s finances are tight. One of the primary reasons for this is that VCCC accepts people who can pay for their stay only through Medicaid, and Medicaid covers only 72 percent of their expenses, Tuller said.

The new services VCCC hopes to provide have the potential to aid seniors and VCCC as well, according to Tuller.

“One of the opportunities in this for us is financial stability and not having such a heavy reliance on Medicaid funding,” she said.

In addition to letting people know about the new direction in services, Tuller is also excited to show the community some recent changes at VCCC: fresh paint, jewel-toned carpet and a renovated front entry that makes visitors feel more welcomed and also provides a new sitting area for residents and creates easier access to Tuller’s office.

The carpet is a victory for VCCC. As a Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-financed facility, VCCC must get HUD approval for capital expenses, which includes carpeting.

The old carpeting had been showing its wear, making the facility look like the kind of institution it was never intended to be, Tuller said.

It took almost a year to get HUD to approve the carpeting because it is higher quality than the carpets on the HUD-approved list. Had it not been for the extra effort put in by the interior designer Karen Earl and the carpet manufacturer, the approval would not have happened, Tuller said.

The details of the paint and the carpet and how people are greeted when walking in are important because they fit with the mission of VCCC, Tuller said, which is to enrich people’s lives.

“A lot of times people have perceptions of nursing homes that they are like their fears of what nursing homes used to be … that they’re institutional, that you’re alone, that you don’t have relationships. We are the opposite of that and becoming better at it every day,” Tuller said.

You’re invited

The party will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25. All Islanders are welcome. In addition to learning about the changes at VCCC, those who attend will be treated to food, drink, live music and other entertainment. Staff and board members will also be on-hand to give tours.

Call VCCC for more information at 567-4421.