Facility provides personal care ‘as needed’ for residents

Looking for a new place to call home? Satilla Bluffs Senior Care, a personal care home located on the Pierce/Ware County line along U.S. Highway 84, aims to open in the next two months.

Construction at the facility is nearing completion and directors are giving tours and wrapping up the hiring process now.

“If we’re fortunate, we’ll be opening, moving residents in, in August,” says Bill Wright, chief operating officer for Georgia Living Senior Care, the company that will operate the new Satilla Bluffs community.

“That’s our tentative plan, but we don’t have a set date,” agrees Danielle Harris, Satilla Bluffs  Senior Care executive director.

Harris, a Pierce County native, was hired in November as the executive director for Satilla Bluffs and she’s been busy. Community interest in the new senior living facility  — from those interested in moving in and others seeking employment  — has been steady, she says.

Harris gave The Times a tour of the community last week, amidst moving boxes, construction debris and the occasional drill or saw powering up for action. She describes Satilla Bluffs, a picturesque facility with large windows, and lots of natural light, as a true retirement community. The facility is built on a bluff overlooking the Satilla River.

Satilla Bluffs will be licensed as a 48-bed personal care home, complete with 32 personal care apartments and 16 secure apartments in the memory care unit for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents.

Initially, construction plans called for just 12 memory care apartments, but management quickly increased that number as community interest grew.

“We had a couple apartments we could flex either way .. and we’ve seen more demand for memory care,” Wright says.

Satilla Bluffs will provide as much personal service as residents require, from medication disbursement assistance to help with daily grooming tasks. The main distinction between personal care and nursing homes is residents of a personal care facility must be able to self-ambulate  — even if it’s in a wheelchair.

“We’ve found some residents have an immediate positive result  — they’re getting their meals, their medications and someone is there with them,” Wright observes.

Residents will receive three meals a day and snacks, daily social activities and programs, access to a movie theatre on site, laundry and housekeeping services, beauty salon services and transportation to doctor appointments or for off site field trips.

Many of the personal care apartments have their own porches and outside access so residents who drive can come and go as they please.

“It gives them the freedom to remain independent but not have to manage a house and everything that comes with it,” Harris explains.

Satilla Bluffs will provide the same services to residents living in the memory care apartments, but with more security  — magnetic door locks and keypad access  — and additional staff members. Those apartments are built in a circular fashion as many dementia patients tend to wander in circles.

“It’s designed to be safe for wandering,” Wright explains.

The memory care activities room, dining area, movie theatre and sunroom are located more closely together to help residents navigate from one place to another without the frustration of getting lost. Outdoor gardens, porches and walking areas are securely fenced as well. And, Satilla Bluffs provides a plunder room for memory care residents where they can move things around as they please, keeping their hands busy.

Satilla Bluffs goal is to be at 25 percent occupancy when they open later this year. So far, they’re on track to meet that goal, Wright says.

Residents who’ve already reserved apartments range in age from their early 60s to late 80s, Harris adds.

Harris has been giving in-person tours, as well as virtual tours for those sheltering in place due to COVID-19, and hopes to begin processing admission paperwork in the next couple of weeks.

She expected community interest to slow during the pandemic, but just the opposite happened.

“It actually picked up!” Harris says.

When she’s not giving tours, Harris is interviewing job candidates. The facility will hire 35 full and part-time positions at the home and another 30-40 more employees for the company’s subsidiary, Georgia Living Senior Home Care, that provides aid to seniors still living in their homes.

“We’ve had a good bit of activity as far as that goes … we’re not really struggling (to hire),” Wright says.

Briana Chapman serves as director for the home service program which will serve 6-10 counties and house their regional office at Satilla Bluffs as well.

Residents of the community who wish for more one-on-one care than the facility offers may also book additional sitters through the home care program.

Satilla Bluffs also keeps one apartment reserved for respite care when families need a break from caring for their loved one(s) for a few days. That apartment can be reserved for 30 days at a time as needed.

A groundbreaking was held at Satilla Bluffs in November 2018, and as with most large scale construction projects, Georgia Living Senior Care has experienced construction delays, primarily related to the engineering challenges of building on the river bluff.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenge … just getting those things right, the engineering and construction. And, it’s cost us a little bit more time than we anticipated as well,” Wright says.

But, coordinating with the City of Waycross and Pierce Count on various permits has been smooth.

“We’ve had a lot of good response from the City of Waycross and Pierce County folks as well. It’s been a pleasure to work with the governmental agencies that we have to work with through permits and construction,” Wright continues.

Rent for an apartment at Satilla Bluffs is paid monthly; no long term contract is required. The rent covers all services  — cable, internet, meals, medication disbursement and daily care assistance. Satilla Bluffs does accept pets for an additional deposit amount.

Those seeking more information about Satilla Bluffs Senior Care or who would like to book a tour can call Harris at 490-6500 or 281-3035.

About Georgia Living Senior Care: The company is based in Statesboro, but operates facilities in Richmond Hill, Tifton, Thomasville, Griffin, LaGrange, Douglas and Kingsland. Georgia Living launched in 1997 and has been assisting seniors with basic activities of daily living for more than 20 years.