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How To Redefine Retirement: An Interview With Meth-Wick Community

Welcome, readers. We are delighted to kick-off our retirement community spotlight series with a profile of Meth-Wick Community. This Life Plan Community is located in Cedar Rapids, IA and takes a unique approach to serve its residents. To give us an introduction to this wonderful community, we spoke with sales manager Julie Farmer.  

Julie is the sales manager for independent living residents at Meth-Wick. Her passion for work is evident after merely a few minutes talking with her. She communicates in an optimistic, honest, and encouraging fashion which made our interview such a delight. Julie studied community health education and gerontology before earning her MBA in hospital and health administration. 

Her professional and personal journeys have led her to experiences across the country and now to help people not only find their dream home but more importantly how to build a life they love and develop relationships and experiences that garner true meaning and fulfillment. 

She walked us through the ins and outs of the Meth-Wick philosophy and the factors that set this community apart from others, namely in its mission to re-define retirement. Let’s dive in!

1. I’d love to hear more about Meth-Wick. Can you provide a quick overview of the community?

Meth-Wick Community has been actively serving residents for 58 years. It rests on over 70 acres and features a park-like, wooded setting full of gardens, a pond, and walking trails. There are 175 units spread across 5 distinct neighborhoods. We are focused on wellness with varying options for care depending on what our residents need. 

Meth-Wick offers three distinct levels of care:

  1. Independent living
  2. Assisted living
  3. Skilled Nursing care

First and foremost, we are a Life Plan Community. That means we are committed to helping you live your life to the fullest, create a plan for your healthcare needs, and connect to develop meaningful relationships. 

2. Can you please lay out the payment obligations?

Application fee

Anyone submitting an application must pay a $500 application fee. Should the application be rejected for any reason, this fee is refunded in full. If an application is accepted and a resident chooses not to move, $100 may be retained. 

Entrance fee

For residents moving into Independent Living, most will pay an entrance fee alongside a monthly service fee.  For those in Assisted Living, an entrance fee isn’t paid but they will pay a refundable deposit upon admission. Fees are based on apartment size and location and are due in full within 90 days of acceptance or occupancy, whichever comes first. These fees are refundable if that option is selected in the contract phase. 

Monthly fees

Monthly fees differ based on apartment size, location, service level, and the number of residents in the apartment. Please contact us for more information on specific fees. Both the entrance and monthly fees are used in different ways depending on the level of care you need, but most provide the following:

  • Gym and fitness facility
  • Garbage collection
  • Utilities
  • Lawn care
  • Weekly laundry
  • 24 hr security
  • 14 one way transports each year within the Cedar Rapids city limits
  • Call system
  • Intra-campus transportation
  • Access to all facilities and services 

It is important to know that these monthly fees don’t cover meals and other services such as satellite TV, salon, extra maintenance, housekeeping, additional car service beyond the allotted amount, and other ancillary charges. 

A great aspect of our fee structure is that you only pay for the services that you need. We don’t have our residents prepay for care. You only pay for what you receive at that time and those services can and do change over time.

If or when are any of these refundable?

In addition to the other refundable fees from above, we have a refundable entrance program that allows you or your estate to receive a portion of the sales price when the unit is resold to a new tenant. This allows residents to get back at a minimum of 50% of the current market value of their unit. 

We are generous about our money-back guarantee and don’t want our residents to feel stuck or pressured, that is the opposite of what we want!

Do you take Medicaid if the resident spends through their assets?

At this time, we don’t take Medicaid for new residents. We are pleased to have a bountiful Wick Endowment Fund that helps residents who have exhausted all of their other options. This fund helps give our residents peace of mind, knowing that they live in a community that will help them, not hinder them. Anyone can donate to the fund. We even have some of our residents allocate funds from their estate to replenish it. This really adds to the emphasis on community and compassion. 

3. What is the occupancy rate?

We are delighted by the satisfaction of our residents and are proud to have a 99% occupancy rate. There is a waitlist for future residents. The waitlist length varies by resident and the type of living situation requested. We encourage people to plan ahead and put their names in early to allow the flexibility to move in on their own terms, not in the wake of an emergency. 

4. What is the emergency response system?

The safety of our residents is a top priority for all of the staff here at Meth-Wick. Each room is equipped with a call button, even for those in our independent living residences. Another thing that sets our community apart is our medical staff. They are on campus and ready to assist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most communities have staff on call, but we want to ensure the best response time and care possible which is why we prioritize having staff not only available but active on campus, at any time for our residents. 

We also have strong emergency protocols for fire, tornadoes, and other natural disasters clearly documented and communicated to all residents. 

5. How do you measure resident satisfaction?

At Meth-Wick, it is our mission to help people build a life that they love which makes resident satisfaction a key component. People always evolve and we want to help them each step of the way. One way we do that is through our internal Welltrack system. This mandatory system allows both new and current residents to meet with a caseworker to discuss their lifestyle, health, and community goals to help them improve their own life and connect with other likeminded people. 

This system helps new members develop relationships, a crucial component to finding happiness in retirement, and keeps current residents active and involved. Residents can meet with their caseworker every 6 months or each year to check-in and make any adjustments to their plan and goals. Welltrack is really designed to help make connections and continue to serve the people who are here. 

In addition to this system, we also have a resident satisfaction survey in each building which has consistently shown numbers in the high 90s. There is a wonderful synergy here, both between the residents who live here and the staff that work here. 

6. How do you prioritize the independence of your residents?

It is important for us to meet our residents where they are. No two people will want the exact same lifestyle in retirement and we strive to cater to each and every one of them. As a community, we have a fully independent living option for residents. And when we say independent, we mean independent. Residents are able to make their own schedule, go to and from campus as they please without signing in/out, and really design the life they want. 

Ours is a wellness campus so there are so many opportunities for exercise including walking trails, gyms, hydrotherapy, water classes and more. 

7. Can you explain the difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

Each resident is able to decide the level of care they need and want. For those interested in assisted living, they can still live with independence but will need more help with daily tasks such as cleaning and meal prep. Assisted living also includes comprehensive nursing services such as grooming, bathing, and medication. Independent living allows the residents to live freely but offers peace of mind to have access to assisted services and care when needed. Meth-Wick has a few different options for residents depending on the level of care they are looking for.

  1. Independent—truly independent and flexible to make their own schedule.
  2. Independent plus—this has more options for residents
  3. Assisted living—more care and services

When is it required for someone to move into assisted living?

Meth-Wick doesn’t have any internal requirement for residents to move into assisted living. The only thing that would determine that is the Iowa State Code. It is important to us that residents are fully aware of the services that are and aren’t available in each tier to have the knowledge and support they need. 

Can people remain in Independent Living as their needs change?

The short answer to this question is yes. It all depends on their choice alongside consulting family and doctors and our ability to get a unit ready for them. For example, if a resident is hospitalized, they can live in respite until we decide if they need more care or if they are going to go back to independent. As the resident makes their decision about skilled care vs assisted living, we are diligent about respecting and upholding that state code and process for our residents.

8. Are you for-profit or not for profit? 

Meth-Wick is a charitable not-for-profit corporation. This structure allows us to make decisions that are best for our residents without being beholden to a larger conglomerate, agency, board, or investors. We have our financial statement available upon request. 

9. Do you accept married couples in one unit? 

We do accept married couples in one unit. There are available for couples in independent living and skilled care.

What happens if my spouse’s dementia deteriorates? Do we stay in the same building?

This is on a case by case basis. It is important to assess each person’s unique needs and be honest about the level of care each spouse requires to live a happy and healthy life. It may not always make sense for a healthy person to follow their sick partner as it will restrict the type of life they can live. With the intra-campus shuttle, there are many opportunities for partners to visit and spend time together if they choose not to live in the same building. 

Do you allow dogs/cats and what are the restrictions?

We have recently expanded our pet policy to allow cats and dogs. We actually changed this requirement based on feedback from the resident surveys. 

10. What’s your policy for visitors?

Meth-Wick is a family-friendly community. For those in independent living, they have the option to sign in or out at their own discretion. They do not have to, but we find that it serves them to. Visitors are welcome and can stay up to a month in the unit with their family member/friend/loved one. At this time, there aren’t any spaces for a visitor to stay in a separate unit. 

11. When I can no longer drive myself, is there transportation available?

There is an on-campus shuttle for our residents to take them to different buildings, activities, errands, around campus. This service is free and offers unlimited availability Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

When residents wish to go outside the campus for doctors’ appointments, family visits, outings with friends, etc. there is a vehicle and a chauffeur service. Each guest has 14 complimentary one-way drives and after that, there is a charge. 

12. What does an average day in the life look like for a resident?

For residents in independent living (my mom and dad live there actually) life isn’t really any different. They still golf and read and cook, but there are more opportunities for community enhancement. Residents are able to do the things they love and participate in the events that they want to. 

It is so great to see our residents’ creativity and ingenuity as well. We have a lot of internal programs, classes, and activities planned for residents, but residents can make their own programs as well. We see a lot of residents initiate grass-roots activities to bring their passions center stage. 

We do have a calendar of events as well as newsletters to keep our residents engaged. All of these activities are optional and can allow each resident to do the things they love from book clubs to bus trips to exercise classes and more. We use results from residents’ Welltrack calendar to help inspire events catered to what our residents want most. We really listen to them and want to give them the things and events they are looking for. 

13. What onsite services are offered? 

Meth-Wick offers many onsite services from medical and nursing needs to meal plans to a salon to laundry services, to housekeeping and so much more. Our community has a pool and fitness center along with a coffee shop and other retail opportunities. 

One thing that is really great is that we have a bus that will take residents to the grocery store every week. The grocery store lets each person select their own things and then delivers the groceries to the residents later that day so they don’t need to worry about hauling them back to their home. We find that this is a small thing that keeps people independent longer. They may not be able to drive anymore, but they are still able to choose their own food and get to the grocery store with ease. 

Many new retirees find themselves in a state of social isolation. Our services and amenities are designed to help them maintain their independence while exposing them to a new community. 

Every retirement community offers its own unique approach to caring for its residents. From our research and speaking with Julie, for Meth-Wick it is really about optimizing the quality of life for each of its residents by prioritizing their lifestyle and health goals to create a life that they want to live. 

After this interview, here are a few key takeaways:

Takeaway #1: Meth-Wick offers 4 tiers of care (independent, independent plus, assisted living, and skilled nursing care) each ranging in price and services. Residents are able to move between each care as their needs change, and are always supported to choose the level of care they need. 

Takeaway #2: As a Life Plan Community, Meth-Wick builds upon their standard of excellent care to include lifestyle planning for residents to reach their goals and find fulfillment and purpose throughout each phase of their lives. 

Takeaway #3: The commitment to the community and strengthening relationships both inside Meth-Wick and outside has led to the development of a strong, close-knit group of residents and staff all enhancing the quality of life for each resident and staff member. 

If you are interested in contacting someone at Meth-Wick, you can fill out a quick form or give them a call at 319-365-9171

Meth-Wick has many unique offerings for its residents. How has your view of retirement communities shifted over the course of this interview? What elements do you still wish to understand better? Let us know because we would love to provide you with the knowledge and tools to make align your financial and personal goals. 

You can find the interviews we did with other local retirement communities as part of this series at the links below:

The Keystones at Cedar Rapids

Cottage Grove Place

Grand Living at Indian Creek

Also see our post: Considering A Retirement Community? 3 Things To Be Aware Of


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