The weather was cold, wet and dreary, but there was warm enthusiasm for a new therapy/activity addition at Hillcrest Home during a groundbreaking on Tuesday, April 3.

The weather was cold, wet and dreary, but there was warm enthusiasm for a new therapy/activity addition at Hillcrest Home during a groundbreaking on Tuesday, April 3.

“Hillcrest has provided a home for residents in Henry County for over 164 years.  As in many buildings over the years, rooms have changed with their purpose,” said Hillcrest administrator Lorna Brown.

Plans for an expansion started in 2015. 

“This is the culmination of a dream that took a lot of planning, thinking, deciding and money saving,” said Henry County Board member Jan May. The county board oversees Hillcrest Home.

At present, activity programs are conducted in the main dining area which limits the residents to the time between meals.  

“This means a cooperative effort by several departments in assisting residents with their meal, clean up afterwards and move tables to have room for the events.  The staff move up to 15 tables twice daily and return them to their original position after each program,” said Brown.  “Residents enjoy the music programs and of course when ‘Elvis’ comes, they fill the room which causes the back rows a limited view of the entertainment.”

The new addition will provide a well-lighted area for residents to participate in activities.  The room will allow residents to enjoy more crafts and be able to linger over projects that take more time, explained Brown.  “We’ll have space to do craft projects and actually let them dry.” 

A better sound system will be installed to improve the quality of the movies and a 12-foot screen will enhance viewing.

“We want the activity center to feel homey,” said Rebecca McReynolds, with Architectural Healing Design, of Illinois City, which designed the addition. “It’s going to be a space you love to be in,” she told residents.

“They will have outside access to the picnic area we call ‘Mary’s garden’ and screen house on the north side of the front lawn. We will be doing landscaping across the front. This path will help with the therapy practice of walking on and off the sidewalk for those residents preparing for home,” said Brown.

“The original idea for this project came from a resident wishing we had a room that she could go to besides the dining room to do things.  Looking at it from her perspective, the active resident could spend eight to nine hours per day in the same room to enjoy the social part of their lives,” she noted. “That’s like us living in our living rooms only.”

The new additional will include a therapy room, designed to be more convenient than the current basement space being used for therapy programs.

“The (existing) therapy department is the last place we use in the basement and residents have to utilize the elevator, and we’ve had our ups and downs with the elevator over the years,” said Brown.

The new therapy department will be larger than the existing location.

“We’ll have a lot more floor space, which is a good thing. Even after some of our residents graduate from our therapy program, they still go to the department to do their exercises,” she said.

The therapy department will move all their equipment with them which includes a mat table, parallel bars, weights, ultrasound, and other exercise equipment. 

“We also have a large bicycle machine made possible by a Geneseo Communication Charitable Foundation grant. This machine is used by residents in therapy as well as residents who have graduated to maintain their strength and skills,” she said.

The new addition will featured a kitchenette for skilled residents to practice meal preparation before returning to their homes. The kitchenette will also be used by the activity department as a place to offer baking classes.

“The addition has a shower/toileting room so again the therapy department staff can practice those skills to be sure the resident can safely perform these tasks of bathing and dressing at home,” said Brown.

Brown said the new addition “will expand (residents’) world and give them the opportunity to experience more events in a different space they can go that they will really enjoy.”

The proposed 4,000-square foot addition will be built by Laverdiere Construction Inc., of Macomb. Construction is expected to be finished in December, and, following an inspection by state officials, the new facility should be ready for use by late 2018 or early 2019.