By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Along with leading operations of the new Woodlands Memory Care, Irving Faunce of Wilton sees an opportunity to promote a local program of volunteerism in the new Woodlands Senior Living center.
Faunce has been named Executive Director of Woodlands Memory Care, currently under construction on the Knowlton Corner Road. He begins his new duties on May 1.
The $5 million, 36-bed facility is expected to open in September. Faunce expects to start by finding office space, hiring employees and filling beds.
A phase two of the project, pending acceptance by the town’s Planning Board, includes construction of an addition that provides another 46 beds for residential care and 18 apartments for senior living which he will also oversee, he said.
Although the memory care center will be a secure building for the safety of residents, it is not meant to keep people out, he said of friends, family and volunteers.
One goal for Faunce is to create a strong program of volunteers of all ages, including elementary school to college age participants, who come in to help with residents while they learn about Alzheimer’s and dementia, he said.
The educational portion of the program geared toward working to reduce the stigma of dementia.
Faunce brings a strong background in the field to the new position. He was appointed by the state in 1985 to develop a 30-bed Alzheimer’s Care Center in Gardiner. It was part of what was Kennebec Valley Medical Center now Maine General, he said.
Alzheimer centers were controversial then, he said. Some thought people with the disease belonged in nursing homes.
The Center opened in 1988 and developed an Adult Day Program that still exists. The program provides an opportunity for home care-givers to have time for themselves while the person is in the program, like child-care, he said.
He went on to operate other facilities including RiverRidge Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center in Kennebunk, Harbor Hill Center in Belfast and is currently director of Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison.
Between his work at the brain injury center and the Penobscot Nursing Home, Faunce worked as a Director of Operations at Western Maine Community Action in Wilton, he said.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Colby College and thought he would continue his work as a journalist, he said. He worked for the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal while in college but his life took a different path.
Faunce and his wife, Jan Collins, own and operate the Wilton Blueberry Farm. He has served his community as a Selectmen for two terms and is currently running for a seat on the Mt. Blue Regional School District Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for Seniors Plus.
The new Farmington center is great news for the area. There is a great need for assisted living facilities, he said.
With the largest growing population of people between the ages of 65-85, market research shows a need here for the residential care offered by Woodlands Senior Living, he said.
The first of its kind in Farmington, the Memory Care center will serve greater Franklin County and beyond. The facility will house 36 residents and employ about 30 full-time employees.
A reported 25,000 people in Maine have Alzheimer’s disease or related memory impairments. In Franklin County, that number is 700 and expected to grow to over 1,000 in the next 15 years, Matthew Walters, chief operating officer, previously said.
Faunce likes that Woodlands Senior Living is a Maine-based and quality company where Lon Walters and son, Matthew Walters, create quality buildings and do it right, he said.
Woodlands Senior Living of Waterville operates 11 assisted-living and memory care communities in Maine since starting in 1980. Farmington’s center will be No. 12 and the seventh specialized center for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related memory impairments.