University-Based SNF to ‘Cross the Generations’

A new skilled nursing facility in Jacksonville, Florida seeks to expose students to the world of elder care — by bringing the residents right to their campus.

Dolphin Pointe Landing, a skilled nursing facility that will be operated by Clear Choice Health Care, is under construction beside Jacksonville University (JU), with the goal of introducing students of every level to a potential career in SNFs.

It is part of a collaboration that aims to expose students of every level to work in elder care.

“These students are going to have the ability to interact all throughout [their] degree program and really get an understanding of what it’s like to serve the greatest generation of seniors,” Geoff Fraser, senior vice president of Clear Choice Health Care and one of the partners of Dolphin Pointe, told Skilled Nursing News.

The facility, which is expected to cost approximately $22 million, is slated to open in mid-2018. Assisted living and independent living components are also planned for the future.

College Connections

Greg Nelson of Nelson Holdings, the developer of the project, has extensive experience in long-term care as well as connections wth the university; he graduated from JU in 1971 and served as a trustee at JU for approximately three years.

“I’ve always thought because JU has such a great nursing school, it would make sense,” he told SNN.

Dolphin Pointe will feature a full spectrum of services and the latest technology, but the connection with the university makes the setting unique, Fraser believes.

“When you go to the actual senior living and housing component that will be there, it’s going to interact with the university to cross the generations and keep an active thriving quality of life for seniors in the building,” he said.

Many operators in the industry have posited that partnerships with schools can help solve the nagging workforce shortage in the senior care space. In JU’s case, the crossover will include students having the “carte blanche opportunity to be working really hand-in-hand with the Clear Choice management clinicians,” Christine Sapienza, the dean of JU’s Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, told SNN.

“I think it’s unusual,” she said. “There’s usually so much distance and logistics that have to be worked out to capture those types of groups.”

Forging Relationships

JU will have an exclusive relationship with Dolphin Pointe to place its health sciences students within the facility, Sapienza told SNN.

“What this offers us is a true integration of a large community for our students to work in,” Sapienza said.

The opportunities for students range from volunteering, practicum work and shadowing, as well as part-time and possibly full-time employment, Fraser said.

“I really want the interaction to be all throughout their schooling,” Fraser said. “We’ve got to do a better job of bringing in the hospitality and the human element of health care because it goes far beyond the technical aspect. This is a service-driven industry and it’s one of the largest right now, so we have to teach more about the service aspects of this industry.”

The university isn’t Dolphin Pointe’s only connection. Sean Nelson, Greg Nelson’s son who worked for Clear Choice and will be the executive director of the complex, has been reaching out to the Arlington neighborhood where the project is located, Greg Nelson said.

Those efforts revealed few options for Arlington residents to obtain certification to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs), Nelson said. As a result, Dolphin Pointe is in the process of helping set up a nurse training program, expected to open sometime next year.

A Path Forward

Partnerships between universities and businesses are nothing new. But Fraser thinks this particular collaboration is a sign of things to come — benefitting both the residents and the students..

“This obviously made the most sense as a starting point, but I think it’s the wave of the future,” Fraser said.

“It’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for the stimulation even in the senior setting,” he said. “They don’t just want to sit there and play bingo. They want to see life, and what better way to experience life than the university setting?”

Written by Maggie Flynn

Maggie Flynn
Business reporter
When she's not working, Maggie enjoys running, reading, writing and sports, in no particular order. Favorite things include murder mysteries, Lake Michigan and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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