Bethany Life has completed a $17 million construction project to improve the living model at the Households of Bethany, and now the public is invited to tour the facility and help celebrate the improvements.

An open house and dedication will be held on Sunday, April 2, from 2 to 4 p.m., with a dedication ceremony at 2:30 in the chapel. Speakers will be Pastor Dave Nerdig and Chaplain Sandy Anenson.

Hors d'oeuvres and desserts will be served, along with coffee and lemonade.

Self-guided and guided tours will be available.

Attendees can make their way through the Households of Bethany using maps designed for the self-guided tour.

The construction project transformed Bethany from the old medical model, with long hallways, to a household model, where residents are grouped together in households, which provide a home-like setting.

Each of the 10 households have private bedrooms and bathrooms with showers for the residents, and shared common areas like dining rooms, kitchens and living rooms to make each household a home.

“When I come to work every day, I want to take care of people's family members like I would take care of my own. I like the household model because I get to interact more on a personal level with my residents. I get to really know the residents I serve and I've become really close with them. We cook together and bake together,” said Bryanne Kasperbauer, homemaker in one of the households.

“People have asked why we did this,” said Betsy Warburton, Bethany Life's president and CEO. “It's the right thing to do. It's really, truly the only way that older adults should be cared for.”

Unfortunately, Bethany Life is in the minority of facilities in the United States that uses the household model, Warburton said.

“The old model is still embraced by a lot of folks,” she said. “But it feels like home now, and that's what we wanted. There have been adjustments to get used to. That's inevitable, but it's well worth it.”

The household model creates better privacy and a “smaller world,” where residents and staff can get to know each other better, Warburton said. The goal is to make each person's residence feel like a home, rather than a facility, she said.

The construction project created 10 households: six long-term healthcare households, three memory care households and one transitional care household called LifeBridge.

Even the décor was designed with older adults in mind. The rooms are full of antiques and vintage items that make the residents feel comfortable, Warburton said.

Each household has its own outdoor space and there is also a larger, common garden area.

“Everyone is very nice to me. I like the spaces outside of my room I can go and watch TV or whatever I want to do. I like the outdoor garden areas, too — especially in the spring,” said resident, Howard O'Dell.

Aside from making the Households of Bethany a better place for people to live, it's also creating a more attractive space for employees to work, Warburton said.

“The caregivers here seem to be happy and enjoy their work. This is happy place — a happy place for all of us,” said resident, Phyllis Ehrhardt.

There is also a pool for water therapy, with a colorful mural painted by Hannah Warburton.

“The capabilities of the pool are endless. To highlight just a few — for those who are arthritic, the temperature really helps alleviate pain, so in the long run less medications for them to take. Additionally, there is a treadmill under the water. The jets in the pool can be turned on to a level to add resistance to walking on the treadmill, offering great exercise. The zero-entry floor makes it easy for our residents to get in and out,” said Tanya Nunn, restorative manager.

Warburton said the entire project would not have been possible without a low-interest loan from the USDA. “We're very grateful for that loan,” she said. “We would not have been able to get this much done without it.”

Something that remained the same is the presence of Sonny and Cher, the two dogs that make Bethany their home.

“They were rescued from a puppy mill,” said Amy Terhaar, ARNP. “The residents had a vote to name them. Our residents find a lot of comfort in the puppies.”

MAIN STREET

A Main Street goes a long way in making a community feel vital, and the same is true at the community at the Households of Bethany.

The creation of a Main Street was one of the major parts of Bethany's renovation.

Tom and Stevie's Bistro, named after donors Tom and Stevie Walsh, offers a variety of menu items for residents, staff and visitors.

“The Bistro is a great place for residents to have a meal with their family when they visit,” said Tarra Carlson, director of sales and marketing at Bethany. “It's also a convenient and delicious place for our employees to eat.”

The bistro offers sandwiches, pizza, salads, coffee, ice cream, soda, beer and wine. “The menu for the bistro is created by Chef Chris, who is a New York-trained chef, and is well-known in the community,” Carlson said.

There is also an outdoor space next to the bistro. The patio has been popular with families during warm weather. It has a grill and a small pond.

Main Street also offers a gift shop, which features small, seasonal items and gifts as well as Roland-Story gear.

The Salon and Day Spa is a place where residents can go for hair and nail care, which is often provided by volunteers. The

salon-spa will also be offering massages in the future.

A multi-purpose room called “The Family Room” is a space staff and residents use for concerts, meetings and gatherings. It is also open to the public. “Anybody can call and reserve the space,” Carlson said. The Family Room can be rented by the community for $25 per hour.

Main Street offers a cozy library, which has a fireplace and offers a selection of books and comfortable places to sit and read. Bethany's chapel is also a part of Main Street.

“We want our residents to feel like they're part of a community, even if they can't regularly get to downtown Story City,” Warburton said.

HISTORY

Established in 1914 as Story City Sunset Home Hospital and Sanitarium, Bethany Life has seen many changes and advances in its 103-year history.

The first chapel was built in 1930. In the 1960s, Bethany Life began to have significant advancements each decade. In 1967, a 33-resident nursing unit was built and in 1977, a 129-resident nursing unit was added.

In 1984, Cedar Place was constructed, with a capacity of 50 tenants. In 1990, a 17-bed memory care unit was built.

In 2001, another 17-bed memory care unit was added. This was also the year that the Timberland Village independent and assisted-living facility was constructed.

In 2009, Bethany's Home Services was established. In 2010, Home Technology was added. In 2012, a third memory care neighborhood was added, and in 2013 LifeChoices at Bethany was launched.

On Nov. 25, Bethany Life honored its history as residents and staff gathered for a time capsule ceremony.

A time capsule had been sealed at the time of construction in 1967, and as the current project began, that time capsule had been opened.

Some of the key items in the re-sealed time capsule include a brick from the 1914 building, a Bible from 1967 and a large group photo of the current staff and residents. Recent copies of the Story City Herald, Ames Tribune and other newspapers were also included, along with promotional materials from Bethany Life.

It was placed behind the fireplace in the library as the construction project neared its conclusion.

Warburton said she hoped that “50 years from now and 100 years from now, people will look at this time capsule and see that we continued Bethany's Christian ministry and continued to have a commitment to our residents.”