By Sue Cullen
An Extension of Family
Omega Communities has developed a model for senior living communities that combines a holistic approach based on well-being of the body, mind and spirit with care delivered by skilled and dedicated professionals in communities designed to meet the needs of today’s seniors and their families. The company chose Sarasota to showcase its first two Florida residences, The Springs at South Biscayne and The Fountains of Hope.
With a mission approach to senior living, Omega Communities distinguishes itself by creating senior communities in an affinity relationship with churches, and by drawing on Greenbrier Senior Living to manage operations for the communities. Omega also drew on the expertise of Sarasota-based Lawson Group Architects for its two local residences because of the firm’s extensive experience in senior living design.
“The most important thing people need to know about us is that it’s all about the care we provide,” says Bill Bambrick, Director of Sales for The Springs at South Biscayne (800.639.9690|thespringsatsouthbiscayne.com), which was the first community built by Omega in Florida. “The beautiful community itself is the bricks and mortar, but it’s the associates who create the experience, the value and the respect that we want for our extended family. Our team is a critical differentiator for us. All of our associates have a calling to serve, and this is an extension of family.”
The two-year-old community is on nine acres adjacent to South Biscayne Church on U.S. 41 in North Port. It houses 95 private assisted living apartments with five floor plans that include one- and two-bedroom suites. “Our community is purposely built with wide open hallways, an abundance of natural light, and a warm, inviting décor,” Bambrick says.
The Springs also has a secure Memory Support wing with 38 private suites in two neighborhoods. Care is provided for residents with early through late stages of memory loss with a “best friend” approach that fosters connection and trust. This approach to assisted living and memory care has resonated within the North Port community. The Springs was named Best Assisted Living in the North Port Sun’s Readers Choice Awards and was named Rookie of the Year and Business of the Year by the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce.
Once someone decides to become a resident, next steps involve truly capturing someone’s life story and understanding their interests, concerns and needs. “The more we understand our residents, the more we can help them make personal connections with those who have some commonality of interests and bridge the gap from one resident to another,” Bambrick says. “Our main goals are to celebrate our residents’ independence and for us that means having choices. We also want to be a trusted resource to the community for anything senior-centric. That could be home care, skilled nursing or assisted living. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that not everyone can move into our community, but I can put them in a better position to understand the choices they have in life. The more information they have, the better decisions they can make.”
For those who are not sure that assisted living is right for them, a “Staycation” of up to 30 days allows them to experience the lifestyle as a resident, which helps relieve the anxiety of going into an unfamiliar situation. “It’s an emotional decision, and I can empathize and put myself in their position,” he says. “I try to give them solid facts and an understanding of what we can and can’t do. I want to help them find the solution that gives peace of mind.”
Both The Springs and The Fountains of Hope are pet-friendly rental communities with predictable monthly pricing and no long-term commitment or large upfront entry fees. The two communities also have Extended Congregate Care licenses, which is the highest level of licensure available in Florida, and offer nurses on site 24/7, providing greater opportunities for residents to age in place. While Omega Communities has a faith-based approach, residents do not need to be affiliated with the church although participation is an option for those who want it.
All residences have kitchenettes with full-size refrigerators, microwaves and solid-surface countertops. Bedrooms feature walk-in closets for ample storage and spa-like private baths have walk-in showers and granite-topped vanities. The communities also have an onsite salon and spa, all-day restaurant-style dining, fitness studio, and central activity room. Activities off-site and within the community promote spiritual and social well-being, intellectual pursuits and an active physical lifestyle. Complimentary shuttles provide transportation for shopping, dining, medical appointments or group outings.
“We are a cruise ship on land”
The Fountains of Hope (800.603.1756|fountainsofhope.com) is next door to the Church of Hope – located north of Fruitville Road near I-75 – and has 68 assisted living apartments and 38 memory care apartments, called Hope’s Place. It also has accommodations for short-term respite care. “We provide a smaller, home-like setting and have a lot of unique amenities to offer,” says Cindy Goff, Director of Sales. “We are a cruise ship on land. Housekeeping, laundry and meals are provided. The community offers all day dining service. This allows residents to select the time they would like to have a meal. Our chef is on the board of a local culinary school, and much of the food is homemade, including breads, cakes and pizza crust. For someone who needs additional assistance, we can help with bathing, dressing and medications.”
Amenities include a large, secure landscaped courtyard, covered lanai, and Exploration Center with a full sound system, movie screen, two large flat-screen televisions, and a stage area for live entertainment. “Something is always going on for those who want to participate. We have opportunities to go shopping two or three times a week, transport residents to local appointments, and take residents out for ice cream or a visit to the Ringling Museum,” Goff says. “The amenities are great, but the real question is what is most important to each individual resident. Some people prefer to stay in their room and watch a ballgame. Sometimes people think that once they get here, they can’t leave. But our residents often go to dinner and spend the night with friends or take vacations with their families.”
Because The Fountains of Hope is a faith-based community, a close relationship is maintained with the Church of Hope. “We are partnered with the church and have a good relationship with them. Volunteers from the church come in to help, and the pastor does a Bible study here,“ she says. “However, we have people from all faiths and religious leaders come in for services with them.”
Residents also have the convenience of medical care on site with visits from a mobile lab, mobile x-ray, dermatologist and podiatrist. A physician visits once a week, and a secure website portal can allow residents’ children, who often are out of state, to review the doctor’s notes and email questions about their parents’ care. Respite care also is available for 14 to 30 days for someone who requires assistance with daily living and whose family or caretaker may be going out of town.
“Respite is an opportunity for a potential resident to be introduced to our community, and a lot of times they end up enjoying the community and decide to stay,” Goff says. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and our team is amazing. We aren’t perfect, but if we make a mistake, we’ll get it resolved in a timely manner. We always want our communities to be welcoming and our residents treated with dignity and respect.”