Doolittle Home Takes Care of Folks for Life
Reprinted from FiftyPlusCaregivers.com featuring an interview with Doolittle Home Past President, Jack Authelet and former Marketing Director, Lynne Sarikas.
The Doolittle Home provides retirement living for both men and women with a unique twist: the contract there guarantees care for life. In fact, the Doolittle Home is the only retirement community licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a "Life Care" facility.
We are totally unique," said Lynne Sarikas, who is on the board of trustees and is the chair of the marketing committee for the Doolittle Home, Inc. "That is one of our more interesting challenges in marketing ourselves. We don't fit any of the traditional labels or categories."
The historic home dates back to 1855. Sarah Doolittle donated the home to the Massachusetts Universalist Convention in 1913, and on March 1, 1915, the Doolittle Universalist Home for Aged Persons was incorporated. Over the years the home has gone through several renovations. Today, it is non-sectarian and is chartered as a 501c(3) public charity.
Residents must be 65 or older and a physical examination is required prior to their acceptance to the home. People must be ambulatory and able to perform basic life functions for themselves. "But a week later if their needs change, they can stay here," Sarikas said.
Some people miss the chance to live in this unique environment because they wait too long before deciding to move out of their homes. "That can be a problem; people fight to stay in their homes as long as possible," Sarikas said.
In those cases, when a person decides on a retirement community, she added, they may not fit the admission criteria for this unique home where all their amenities and services for the remainder of their lives are provided. The fee covers the resident's room, three meals a day and snacks, medication management, nursing staff, as well as activities. Meals are prepared by experienced dietary staffers in a formal dining room.
In addition, the home has contracts with other health care professionals, such as a podiatrist, optometrist, dentist, dietitian, social worker, pharmacist, and physical, occupational and speech therapists, who come to the residence. A van is provided for residents who have off-site medical appointments or who may want to go shopping or to another activity. Some residents drive their own cars.
"We like to say we are in the peace of mind business," Sarikas, said. "We give peace of mind to the residents who know all their needs will be met and [that gives] peace of mind for their family members."
The main building of the Doolittle Home has two housing units, one of which encompasses the original structure. They are connected by a dining room and sunroom.
There also is a nine-bed fully accredited nursing unit staffed seven days a week. While residents may have to go to the hospital for a medical emergency, all other care is provided at Doolittle Home.
Jack Authelet, the president of the Board of Trustees, said one thing that makes the Doolittle Home unique is that the resident and family members know the total cost of their care - for life - from the day they enter the home. "In a nursing home you get billed every month, here you know what you are going to pay from day one," he said.
A customized fee is drawn up for each resident based on the cost of care for the remainder of their estimated lifespan based on actuarial tables. That cost is offset by their monthly Social Security and any pension income to determine the cost of admission.
Should a resident decide to move out of the home and money is left in their account, they receive a refund of 90 percent of the unallocated dollars from the $10,000 fee. If a resident dies, their heir receives this money. There is no additional fee if the resident moves to the nursing unit or lives beyond the calculated life expectancy.
As a public charity, the Doolittle Home is required to provide its care at a cost that is less than the same services would cost on the open market, Authelet said.
"I was born and brought up right next door to the Doolittle Home," Authelet said. "My mom was the cook there, so I would visit her in the home. As a kid, the residents in the home were my extended family."
As an adult, Authelet moved back into his family home, next door to Foxboro's unique retirement home. "It is such a rewarding involvement, just to see the difference it makes in people's lives," he said.
Authelet said that he often sees Doolittle residents at the local library and the town's performing arts center. "You aren't changing your lifestyle when you move here," Authelet said. "You are changing your address."