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Park City weighs in on assisted living

ANNA BLOOM Of the Record staff

It appears the Park City community would like an assisted living facility, so long as it’s close to town, and privately owned and operated, according to a study conducted by Gill Blonsley, hired by the city to make an assisted living needs assessment.

Park City Senior Center President Jo Reid says she agrees with the results of the survey.

Though center members are active and do not need an assisted living facility for themselves, Reid says that she would welcome a facility, since there may very well be others in the community who could benefit from one.

"I don’t expect to need an assisted living facility and none of [the senior center members] need it, but I don’t know about the other seniors in town," she said. "I do know it would be more convenient for some people at the Wentworth [in Oakley] with families in Park City, so that they wouldn’t have to travel."

Reid says that Blonsley met with center members several times as he was compiling information for his study, and noted that most Senior Center members felt that if there is assisted living, there should be varying levels of care, it should be within walking distance of town and it should be maintained by a private company.

"It shouldn’t be city run, because I just don’t think we should use our taxes for that," she explained. "The city doesn’t have any experience in senior living."

Park City Affordable Housing Director Phyllis Robinson and Blonsley presented the results of the assisted living needs assessment at Park City Council’s meeting Thursday, Dec. 8.

Blonsley collected 252 responses for the city’s study throughout the fall, at advertised public meetings, presentations to civic and service organizations, healthcare providers and random samplings at supermarkets. Participants were typically between 41 and 65 years old, female and married, and 104 said they had lived in the Park City community for more than 12 years.

"[The study] was not scientific, but it addressed a good cross-section," Blonsley told City Council.

According to the responses in the study, 138 would be generally interested in having assisted living services available in the community and 103 said they might have a personal need to use such a residence in the future.

Blonsley said what surprised him most was the response to the suggestion of additional services for seniors. A total of 203 of the study’s respondents would like to see an adult daycare program as part of the facility.

When asked the question "do you or a person living with you find that your house serves your physical needs?" 203 respondents said no, and of those who said no, the majority named ‘stairs’ as the reason their home does not serve physical needs.

When asked what a fair monthly price to pay for a facility would be, 29 percent said $2,900, and 30 percent wouldn’t mind paying more than that amount, according to Blonsley’s report. Survey results also showed that the facility should be close to town and on a bus route.

Councilwoman Kay Calvert said that she thought perhaps the reason respondents wanted to be close to town was because they wanted to be able to get to a doctor’s office, but Blonsley countered that respondents did not have medical needs in mind.

"The people who took this survey don’t think of themselves as ill they were not frail. They were healthy," he said. "

Ultimately, Blonsley found that if there was a facility in the community, respondents felt it should be privately run. Respondents overall see the city as a facilitator rather than an operator, he said.

"There were strong feelings on both sides, but mostly it was ‘keep the city and my tax dollars out of it’ there were far more on that side of the scale," he reported.

Blonsley explained that it was also a matter of principle: fashions change, and councils change, and there was a concern that there was a possibility the city could change its relationship with the assisted living facility sometime in the future.

Mayor Dana Williams concurred that a facility run by a private company would be best.

"I agree [the assisted living facility] should not be city-run," he said. "We don’t need to be in that business."

Williams and council members said that they would be taking a closer look at the key findings at the council Visioning Retreat in January. Staff plans to incorporate the findings related to senior housing into the Three to Five Year Housing Work Plan.


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