Senior living and care pioneer Dr. Bill Thomas and a team of colleagues today unveiled Kallimos Communities, a new concept in housing and services.
The first two projects are already in their early stages in Colorado and Texas, Kallimos COO Megan Marama told Senior Housing News.
Marama, Thomas and the Kallimos team have big ambitions, seeing these communities as a new paradigm for senior living.
“Some of the loneliest elders in America live at home on streets filled with houses but without friends, family, or neighbors as part of their daily life, and … large senior living buildings offer a solution for some but can be expensive and often carry the stigma of being ‘old folks’ homes,” Thomas said in a press release announcing Kallimos.
He believes Kallimos can be a better alternative, and is a model rooted in the five years he spent traveling the country, speaking with elders and their loved ones.
“It turns out that older people pretty much want what everyone else wants: to belong to a community that includes people of all ages and remain connected to the living world,” he stated.
Rooted in MAGIC
In 2017, Thomas introduced a framework he called MAGIC, standing for multi-ability/multi-generational, inclusive communities. Early work on MAGIC took place at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, and now Kallimos is a fuller embodiment of MAGIC principles.
The vision for Kallimos involves neighborhoods of compact homes, ranging from studios to 2-bedrooms. These home are different than Thomas’ Minka tiny home concept, but they will be built using similar modular construction approaches and involve similar features, such as designs and technology to enable aging in place, Marama said.
Kallimos arranges these homes into pocket neighborhoods of up to 50 total units across 6 acres. Three or more of these neighborhoods combine to create a Kallimos community. In addition to the homes, the neighborhoods will have amenities such as gardens and nature paths, a greenhouse and multi-generational playground.
Each pocket neighborhood also would have a Kallimos Commons, involving indoor and outdoor spaces for shared activities and dining. And, depending on the overall project size, Kallimos developments might also have other amenities such as pools and spa areas, beauty shops, a leasing office, or sundry store.
In addition to leadership roles such as a community director and maintenance leader, Kallimos Communities would be staffed by people dubbed “weavers” and “keepers.” Weavers will be responsible for fostering connections among residents and helping to support their wellness and lifestyle goals. Keepers will be multi-functional workers who manage and maintain indoor and outdoor common areas, with responsibilities that could include gardening and cooking.
Kallimos Communities are intended to be multi-generational, appealing to people of all ages who desire a more communal lifestyle at an affordable pricepoint. Kallimos homes will be available on a rental model, with most priced at a middle-income level, although the organization is also working with housing authorities and other groups to support low-income options, Marama said.
The multigenerational component is meant to reduce the isolation that older adults experience when they live in traditional senior housing, while also helping to support their independence for longer periods of time. For example, younger residents would be able to help them with errands.
For more advanced care needs, Kallimos is working on partnerships with home health and private-duty home care providers, which would be trained on Kallimos principles and work with weavers, keepers and community directors to coordinate services for residents.
Even people with memory care needs could reside in Kallimos Communities; renowned dementia expert Dr. Al Power is on the Kallimos advisory board, working with the organization to develop its approach.
Self-governance is another key component of the Kallimos model, with structures such as community councils driving decisionmaking. The goal is to enable a way of living that is “unbound” from the often strict regulations that apply to senior living and skilled nursing centers.
Other Kallimos leaders include Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Nancy Fox, who has worked closely with Thomas on operationalizing concepts such as Green House; Chief Business Development Officer Nancy Schwalm; and Chief Wisdom Officer Jeff Jerebker.
Meeting the moment
While Kallimos Communities has been several years in the making, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for alternatives to traditional assisted living and nursing homes, Marama said.
Large, congregate-style communities presented stark infection control challenges, which demanded — among other policies — near-total bans on non-essential visitors. The resulting isolation exacted a steep toll on residents.
Marama saw the effects first-hand, as a nursing home administrator. Marama was running a Green House nursing home; pioneered by Thomas, Green House communities utilize a household model. Data show Green House communities had lower rates of Covid-19 infection than larger nursing facilities — but even so, Green House communities were governed by rules and regulations that resulted in resident isolation.
“Having run a nursing home, I was the one who told the families they could not enter the building, and it was a year later that I was able to say something different,” she said.
Seeing what happened during Covid-19, there is increased interest in alternative ways of delivering housing and services to older adults, and so-called small home models in particular are generating excitement among investors and operators.
Also during Covid-19, active adult communities showed resilience, in part because they were subject to fewer visitation restrictions than higher levels of care.
The Kallimos Communities model dovetails with these trends, which could make this an auspicious moment for its debut.
Kallimos is already working with housing authorities and churches that are interested in the model, and the organization is open to “all partnership opportunities,” Marama said. That could include senior living developers and providers that have land or are interested in securing land, but want to create something different than a typical community.
In principle, Marama believes that Kallimos Communities would “most definitely” be appropriate settings for most independent living or assisted living residents, and even would be a good fit for some of the older adults who are residing in Green House nursing homes.
If it seems like a big question as to whether younger people will want to live in a community with older adults, multigenerational living has been a growing trend for several years. And this week brought news of a 19-year-old who mistakenly moved into an apartment complex for older adults — and, she likes the experience, which she is documenting in viral TikTok videos.
“Our elders should be a part of everyday life,” Marama said.
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