Evolving Assisted Living With A Changing Charleston

A photo of the inside of Bishop Gadsden

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When the needs of seniors in the Charleston area change, so does Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community, one of the oldest continuously operating retirement communities in the country.

The Right Rev. Christopher E. Gadsden, the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Church of South Carolina, established the Episcopal Church Home on Anson Street in downtown Charleston in 1850 to house widows and children. Now, Bishop Gadsden is a vibrant and thriving life plan community located on more than 100 acres of lush marshland and majestic oaks on James Island, just 10 minutes from downtown Charleston.

Myers Hall, the assisted living facility that was the first phase of Bishop Gadsden, opened in 1987. Since then, skilled care, independent cottages and apartments, memory support and a health and short-term rehabilitation center have been added to meet the needs of seniors, no matter where they are on the continuum of care.

“The goal of our visionaries was always to be a life plan community,” said Kimberly Borts, vice president of mission and communications.

Bishop Gadsden has more than 500 residents, with the opportunity to welcome more in the future.

At Bishop Gadsden, assisted living has evolved and expanded over the years.

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“We support a continuum of care. Assisted living can allow people to remain quite independent because you have those support systems in place,” Borts said.

When Bishop Gadsden opened its assisted living building, it offered one-room units with walk-in closets and private bathrooms.

“That was state-of-the-art in the mid-1980s,” Borts said. “But people have changed, and the continuum has changed, and we realized that more options for assisted living were needed.”

Myers Hall has since gone through several small-scale renovations, combining rooms into suites. In addition, Bishop Gadsden has expanded its assisted living offerings with three new buildings, providing a total of 12 two-bedroom, 52 one-bedroom and six studio residences and nine one-bedroom suites.

The new apartments offer large windows, with an open floor plan featuring ample living space. Most have full kitchens but without a stove.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about assisted living. On one tour, somebody said they had heard that you don’t get a key to your own apartment with assisted living. That’s not true,” said Ashley Proctor, Bishop Gadsden’s health care marketing manager. “We’re really just there to support our residents in the areas where they need support.”

That help could include medication management, complimentary transportation to doctor appointments and personal laundry.

“We can help residents as they age. We can help with bathing, dressing, buttoning buttons and zipping zippers. People need to know that we build care plans according to a resident’s needs, and those needs may change. But that’s OK because the plan of care can change with them,” Proctor said.

Assisted living residents also have access to Bishop Gadsden’s exceptional culinary options and are encouraged to enjoy programming ranging from educational lectures to a variety of wellness and spiritual activities.

“Bishop Gadsden has the services and programs in place to support residents at whatever level, whatever stage of life they are. What makes our assisted living community a little different is that we have the opportunity to serve additional residents in beautiful surroundings with exceptional supportive services,” Borts said.

For more information, visit bishopgadsden.org.

By Cindy Landrum

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