Followup: What Aegis Living plans for ex-Life Care Center spot

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The CEO of Aegis Living tells WSB that the new senior-living center his company plans to build at 47th/Admiral will be “something that West Seattle has not seen before.”

We talked with Redmond-headquartered Aegis’s CEO Dwayne Clark on Monday, the first opportunity he’d had for a conversation since we made the request upon discovering earlier this month that Aegis is buying the 1 1/2-acre site vacated by Life Care Centers of America almost a year ago.

Full plans for that “something” are still under development, says Clark. The deal isn’t set to close until year’s end, but they have a size and concept in mind:

The current building will be demolished and a new one built, Clark told WSB, with likely 72 to 80 units, some assisted living, some memory care.

The site holds significance, he added, for a variety of reasons. His wife, a former West Seattleite, lived “about six blocks from there” and they have lots of relatives here, including his mother-in-law. “There’s a lot of family pressure to get it right. … We have looked at West Seattle for a long, long time, and have probably turned down six sites there.” The intent, Clark says, is “not only ‘do we want to be in the community?’ but ‘what’s missing in the community?’ That’s what’s different about us, from the others.”

One thing missing in West Seattle, in Clark’s view, is a new senior-living complex; he rattles off the names of some of his future competitors and declares most of their buildings “old.” Not just the buildings – he also contends there’s a lack of “really new innovative, progressive programmatic space or programs, (for both) people with dementia and not with dementia.”

This isn’t his company’s only project under development; in addition to the 30 they have in three states, they have eight projects in the Seattle area, according to Clark, “more than 200 million dollars in development” – the closest are on Queen Anne, one opening soon and another one starting construction there shortly – though he says this is the only West Seattle project they envision for the foreseeable future.

Back to what they’re planning: Though Aegis of West Seattle (the expected name) won’t be devoted entirely to memory care, “it’s a specialty of ours,” Clark says, recalling his mother’s battle with dementia, which he chronicled in the book “My Mother, My Son.” “I’ve spent the better part of my adult life working with (people with) dementia … what we try to do in memory care is very, very different. … some of it so off-the-charts unique.”

Given the current understanding of what happens to the brain as dementia begins and progresses, Clark explains, “what we’re trying to do is build a programmatic environment that helps where the person’s at in their cognitive brain … One of the things we try to do (is to) invoke the moments of joy … trying to re-create memories … where they interact with people.”

Among the ways that’s been done at some Aegis facilities, he says, includes special features, such as one center where there’s a gourmet cooking kitchen, with stove and cookbooks and utensils, “so a person with severe cognitive disability might remember, ‘I did this on a daily basis’ … transforms that resident from a place of agitation to a place of comfort.” At their Marymoor location, Clark says, there’s a replica KOA Campground “with an Airstream trailer and ’57 Studebaker and camp fire and KOA sign … (evoking) a memory of what this kind of person did on vacations in ’50s and ’60s … People getting into the industry think it’s as simple as building an apartment building; it’s so much more sophisticated than that.” Events are involved too; Clark tells of a Woodstock party thrown for hundreds at one of their locations – 200 of the attendees were residents with dementia, he says, proudly.

Any specific theme in mind for West Seattle? Not yet, Clark says, but he’s thinking some kind of “water or marine theme,” given the proximity of Puget Sound. Maybe even inspired by Capri, Italy, where he says he and his wife love to vacation.

He details other components, such as furniture and decor, and staff training from “healing touch” to “psychology of the residents.” Aegis has a chief medical officer – not common among senior-living companies, according to Clark – and “100, 200 nurses on staff.”

Overall, he mentions a philosophy of “affordable luxury,” which he says fits the West Seattle zeitgeist per his mother-in-law: “I will tell you we won’t be the cheapest, but we will be the best, most creative, most capable.”

Aegis is a “for-real family company,” he adds, privately owned, and is “very involved in the local community.” He promises that goes for the residents too: “Too often we want to shut the door and say ‘that’s where the old sick people live … (but) we want to integrate our residents back into the community. … We think our residents want to do cool things like a 40-year-old would do.”

What’s next? As mentioned above, they expect to close the sale at year’s end. They have no designs to show right now, and city files show no application (yet), but they expect to get close to a final design within about three months of closing. The permit process from there could take more than a year, Clark says.

12 Replies to "Followup: What Aegis Living plans for ex-Life Care Center spot"

  • Kris November 27, 2013 (12:30 am)

    When they are given a permit to
    build a new facility does the state require any of the 70 units to be low Income? I remember when Mt Saint Vincent began their assisted living program they had a few low income units.

  • Gatewood mom November 27, 2013 (2:20 am)

    The requirement to have low income units comes from financing requirements. If they use the particular state housing bonds to fund it then yes they are required to have low income units. That’s one way housing projects get funding with lower interest rates.

    Look up WSHFC Washington State Housing Finance Commision for much more in depth info.

  • gina November 27, 2013 (8:31 am)

    Having a day program for dementia patients would be a great thing. The Mount has one, always with a waiting list to get in. Another is always welcome.

  • Vanessa November 27, 2013 (9:49 am)

    I believe that Mt. St. Vincent’s number of beds for Medicaid recipients has changed. I know from a few years ago, they only had so many bed open. But that changed. Maybe now, there is a wait list for those.

  • Bus rider November 27, 2013 (9:57 am)

    A care home is outrageously expensive. I don’t know how many families deal with the cost of care, especially families with situations similar to mine that were rejected for long term disability insurance. My mom is in the process of having to deplete her entire savings and not even leave a little for a safety net for her. While amenities are nice, I don’t know how many more average people can afford this. A place like this for dementia patients can cost $10k/month. How many families can afford that?

  • Sad November 27, 2013 (10:33 am)

    Bus rider – I know what you are talking about as my mom had to deplete everything she had also to have any help whatsoever & we were told could not use on anything but care in depletion & what happens….the roof had to be replaced, the sewer line went out & her washing machine….everything just about at the same time. Unfortunately, I had to scramble to figure out how to pay for this myself on her behalf. It was a very hard time & a hard lesson. I really feel for people that have to go through this. Mom was allowed what I call a very, very small allowance each month. On the lighter side, this facility should provide a number of needed jobs for the area.

  • Lydia November 27, 2013 (10:36 am)

    Dementia care will be more in demand in future. While Aegis concept in West Seattle sounds above average, Corporate ownership can subvert great ideas to extract profits from this growing market. My mother’s journey through dementia has shown us that few caregivers understand dementia and mainly keep a person on the daily schedule. Mom understands everything but can’t communicate back and got in trouble for being “combative” in expressing her needs. Her caregiving costs increased because of her behavior. Sadly, the corporate caregiving at $7,900/month kept increasing based on her behaviors and became prohibitive. We moved to private adult family home (dementia specialty). They watch Mom for clues to support her. She now laughs, smiles and has gained caregiving that provides dignity and support. The combativeness ended. Mom puts a hand out now to ask for more time. Corporations need profit; people need care and dignity. Not everyone will have the money. No easy solution.

  • Bus rider November 27, 2013 (11:48 am)

    Thank you Sad and Lydia for sharing your story.

  • Chris November 27, 2013 (12:02 pm)

    10K $7,900 is nothing short of some sort of usury. Rent a 2bd apartment/$1,800~ pay 1 skilled person to live in $2,000~ and one to provide some day service for 6~ hrs. to get out of house for groups, appointments, social time etc. $3,000. have live-in pay for anymore time they want off. Spend time yourself several hrs a week. Throw in some bonus to reward good work. Worked great for my demented dad.

  • 22blades November 28, 2013 (7:16 am)

    After caring for my late mother with Parkinson’s, I can attest to the fact that the entire system is utterly broken; for the person in need and the caring loved ones.

    The care of loved ones and yourself should not have to conform to a business model that enriches the few at our great expense. But then this is America. Sad…

    P.S. I don’t know of many people that can take “several hrs a week” off their place of employment. When I asked my (major corporation) employer for some benefits for the last days of my mother’s life, I was met with the question; “is she dead yet?” Obscene…

  • Bus_rider November 28, 2013 (9:39 am)

    @ 22blades: I agree. It is hard when you have kids and work full-time. You end up spreading yourself too thin. My cousin and I commiserated when I told him about someone in our family who was depressed and he said, “who isn’t!?”
    I also have to say that I hate it when people say”well how old is your dad?” It’s like they are saying he’s old enough, he can die. He still has a lot of life and things to share. It’s just that he’s also very vulnerable too. Many people don’t seem to realize their values about the elderly or infirm. It’s ageism.

  • poppy November 29, 2013 (5:01 pm)

    what an outrage old age care is!!!how do these companies justify these prices!? why doesn’t the government pay for this at least 75%? this is robbery in the saddest way possible. Shame on those who take every last buck from those who lived through hard times and saved every buck they could…and in a matter of a few years it’s gone!!!all the stress that is put upon a family to deal with this is terrible. you watch how Aegis Living is going to milk people for all they can. Disgusting.

Sorry, comment time is over.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann