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SEM Haven, a United Church Homes–managed community in Milford, Ohio, is in the final stages of a two-year, $5 million renovation project to continue the transformation of its campus for maximum comfort for the residents and in keeping with the principles of the Eden Alternative™ philosophy. 

SEM Haven became a registered Eden Alternative™ community in 2001. The focus is on building a life worth living through caring relationships with pets, plants or children. All households have outdoor patios where residents can help care for flowers in raised beds. The Eden Alternative uses education, consultation and outreach to offer person-directed principles and practices that support the unique needs of different living environments. It also promotes quality of life for older adults and their care partners. 

“In a culture that typically views aging as a period of decline, the Eden Alternative™ philosophy asserts that no matter how old we are or what challenges we live with, life is about continuing to grow,” according to the organization’s website.

SEM Haven started using the Eden Alternative™ philosophy in 2000, with a focus on pets, plants and children. Nurses keep prescription medications in the resident rooms, so no medical carts are used in the community. 

Sunroom Good

SEM Haven opened in 1980 as a 100-bed, traditional nursing home with all semiprivate rooms and one large dining area. Its layout was based on the hospital model, with long corridors broken up by nurses’ stations, Administrator Barb Wolf said.

That institutional feel is long gone at SEM Haven. The campus doubled in size about a decade ago for the same number of residents. Residents live in one of five households, each with its own living room, dining room, kitchen and mostly private rooms. Households range in size from eight to 25 residents and are staffed with the same employees every day. Residents of each household dine together and have individualized social events calendars. The focus of the renovation includes the addition of large, individual rooms with private showers. When the renovations are complete, the community’s capacity will be 95 skilled nursing and 42 assisted living residents.

Willow Way, a new assisted living household for nine residents, will open this summer. It joins the Gatch Grove, Canfield Court, SEM Haven Rehab, Ripple Ridge, McCormick Landing, Kugler Woods and Hickory Cottage households. Life enrichment programs take place in the Gathering Room on a regular basis, as well. All of the households come together for these events.

SEM Haven is one of four buildings on the campus. All are separate entities and offer independent living, so residents can seek a higher level of care close to home as their needs increase.

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