Assisted living is an extension of family for Marci Simmons, RN, director of nursing at Redhaven Care Homes. She enjoys providing a safe and non-institutionalized environment.

Redhaven Care Homes offer new approach to assisted living

by James Coburn
Staff Writer

A sense of place and community brought Marci Simmons to work at Redhaven Care Homes in Oklahoma City where she serves as director of nursing.
She thinks she has much in common with John Wilson, administrator and owner of the assisted living center (AL).
She didn’t recognize the 5,000-square-foot Redhaven home when she first tried to find the address. That is because it is seamlessly part of a beautiful neighborhood.
“My GPS brought me into this neighborhood,” Simmons said. “I called and said, ‘I think something is off. I think I’m lost,’” said Simmons. “But I was at the right place. So when I walked in and I saw this, I was hooked.”
“We just felt that the large conglomerate ALs were something that maybe not all the seniors in Oklahoma were accustomed to,” John Wilson said. “They are accustomed to living in a house and want to continue to be part of a community by living in a house.”
His goal is like many assisted living centers want to achieve by being home-like, he said. And, Redhaven is a home in a residential neighborhood. Wilson said the senior population through the years has been segregated by being forced into commercially zoned, essentially large warehouse environments. But many seniors would like to maintain living in a community setting, he said.
“We want to bring that back to our seniors to continue living and thriving in a community setting,” Wilson said.
The first Redhaven home has opened in a friendly and established neighborhood in northwest Oklahoma City. A second Redhaven home is being prepared to open two doors down.
A Redhaven home can have eight to 10 people living there and couples live there as well.
The amenities include anything you would expect in a modern upscale home. The home is fully sprinkled with constant fire monitoring and call alert systems. Residents may ask for assistance when they need assistance, Wilson said. Three meals and snacks are provided during the day in a family dining atmosphere.
“We also have a convection oven and a stove. You can essentially put your hand on there and it’s not going to burn you,” he said. “And so it’s really good for them if we want to do cooking activities. If they want to be involved in cooking, we can do those things. That could be very difficult in another community because you’re in fear of fires; you’re in fear of somebody getting burned.
There is an around-the-clock nursing staff with nursing aides or a universal worker that can help manage the residents’ needs throughout the day. Simmons is present or on-call to oversee the staff.
“Our caregivers can provide assistance with bathing and dressing — things like that. They will also be able to do the cooking, the activities, the cleaning and laundry,” she said.
Simmons has been a registered nurse since 2002 when she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at the Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University. She has worked in assisted living ever since. Simmons has also had her administrator’s license since 2005. She has worked as the administrator and RN for another facility for the last nine years.
She became involved in caring for seniors because her father was in the business. She also wanted to take care of her grandparents. So as soon as she became involved in assisted living, she knew it was a life-long career.
She always knew she was going into the medical field, Simmons said.
“I have that passion for it. It’s not a job for me. It’s a ministry and it’s where I will always be,” Simmons said. Simmons said she loves the excitement of something new and different, which is what Redhaven is.
“They are bringing something that has not been done and it’s special for seniors,” she said. “I am very big on making it feel like a family. Even when I was at a large facility center, I called it my family. In this atmosphere, it will truly feel like a family for everybody. I love that. It makes me very excited. I feel that way with my employees. I think our residents will feel that way with the caregivers that we have.”