13 Sep The McLellan: Aging in place in downtown Brunswick
Open ceilings, walls and exposed wiring make the interior of the former Skofield House unrecognizable as it transitions into The McLellan, an assisted living community in the heart of downtown.
The vision for The McLellan came from Amy McLellan, who has been a registered nurse for 30 years. McLellan searched the entire state for an ideal location before finding it right down the street from where she currently lives.
“I used to walk up to the Mexican restaurant with my daughter and I used to say, that would be the perfect building,” McLellan said. “It’s like a dream come true for me to have this right in my own back yard in this great little neighborhood with a perfect reuse of this building.”
With a history as a nursing home, first as the Brunswick Manor and later the Skofield House, the fit was right for an elder-living residence that encourages independent lifestyles.
McLellan said that her nursing career has been “an absolute privilege” and that in the last 30 years she’s seen assisted living done both very well and very poorly.
“It’s been a frustration for me over the last 30 years when I know how to do it right and so finally I said about 10 years ago — I can’t save the world but maybe I can save 18 or 20. This project is about doing senior living absolutely as perfectly done as it can,” McLellan said.
The building is being reconfigured to support 18 units and an owner’s residence. McLellan plans to be the resident nurse with a relief nurse and a certified nurse’s aide — none of whom will appear as clinical staff but more or less names and faces familiar to the residents.
“We won’t look like nurses. We won’t act like nurses, but we’ll be smart, critical thinkers like nurses,” McLellan said.
McLellan said that part of the problem many assisted living communities have is the term has really just become code for nursing home — where every little detail of residents’ lives are tended to.
“This about providing you with an opportunity to continue your life and to have services there that are kind of behind the scenes so that you can age in place and never need to leave your home,” McLellan said.
McLellan said the average resident of The McLellan may be an elderly man who still drives but wants to downsize his living spaces or the couple, one of whom has some mobility issues.
McLellan said another problem assisted living facilities also face is their peripheral locations in towns. The last thing McLellan said she wants to do is load people into a bus like they’re going to school simply to enjoy the town.
The central location in a walkable downtown offers residents the opportunity to come and go as they please, with People Plus and the Union Street Bakery right outside the doors.
Amenities at The McLellan include kitchens, a living room and breakfast nook, washers and dryers, LED fireplaces in each unit, gas fireplaces in common areas, a fitness room, cinema and one meal a day provided by the facility.
For that, McLellan is hoping to find a caterer who wants to run their business out of the commercial kitchen who could also prepare meals for the residents.
“The whole thing is going to look and feel like a home from start to finish,” McLellan said.
One such detail McLellan outlined was her recent decision to put screen doors on each residence — something she said she’s never seen before. McLellan said the doors will provide a bit of privacy while remaining open to the community.
McLellan said she wants the building to be open and purposeful and rather than offering residents just games and cards to play, she sees herself as a facilitator of sorts, to help them achieve life goals, like furthering education.
McLellan has already secured a new yoga instructor, who wants to come in and offer free yoga for residents, as well as a nutritionist who wants to help residents make healthy choices.
When it comes to pricing, McLellan said she’s gone to great lengths to keep below the Maine average of $4,200 per month. Monthly fees for The McLellan will range from $1,500 to $2,900.
For that price range, McLellan said they will receive security services like emergency pull cords and lifeline buttons, as well as cable.