awards, recognition and press

The Cedars Plans to Expand in Portland

The Forecaster, by David Harry, January 16, 2018

PORTLAND — The Cedars, an assisted living and long-term care facility at 630 Ocean Ave., plans to expand and shift its living arrangements.

“The project is largely driven by the evolution of the care model, with a shift towards the household model of care delivery and private rooms for residents,” according to site plan application materials posted Jan. 11 by the city Planning Department.

Originally the Jewish Home for the Aged on the Eastern Promenade, The Cedars moved to its current home near the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Rainbow Park Road in 1991.

The Cedars is open to residents of all faiths, according to its website, serving as a retirement community, and offering assisted living, rehabilitation services and nursing care to residents.

Plans call for converting rooms in the existing Hoffman Center from semi-private to private, which would displace 40 beds. Those beds would be added to the new building, along with 20 more beds in what is described as an “assisted living memory care household.”

The new building, to be built near the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Rainbow Park Road, would have a footprint of 15,000 square feet, and a total area of more than 45,000 square feet.

The shift to private rooms will be made by creating “houses” of 20 beds each. The Hoffman Center renovations will not expand the building and would be done internally.

Plans also call for 61 new parking spaces on the 10.5-acre property. An administration building would be torn down, according to the plan description.

The Cedars, a long-term care facility which has been at 630 Ocean Ave. in Portland since 1991, is looking to expand while converting some rooms from semi-private to private.

The Cedars Partners with PATHS for Benefit of Residents with Dementia

The Forecaster, by Kate Irish Collins on October 17, 2017

PORTLAND — Students in the woodworking program at Portland Arts and Technology High School turned a team-building exercise into a community-service project.

The students crafted activity boards for residents of The Cedars retirement community.

The boards, which include locks and latches, hooks and hinges, lights, colorful beads, bells and more, “provide an opportunity to tinker safely” for residents with dementia or other cognitive deficits, Nick Viti, director of life enrichment at The Cedars, said.

The boards also “provide meaningful occupation that is sometimes (lacking) in a nursing-home setting,” Viti said. “I am very pleased with the activity boards the PATHS students created.”

Viti said he told the students about the purpose of the boards, gave them some background on dementia, and helped them research a few activity-board examples.

“Several students were already talking about their ideas before I left on that first visit and when I returned several weeks later, I was impressed at how much thought and creativity the students put into their activity boards,” Viti said.

The students had such a good time working on the boards, according to Jill Irving, the woodworking instructor at PATHS, that they’ve also agreed to make several for Campassus Hospice in Scarborough. Full article here

Kelly Yattaw Recognized by Maine State Ombudsman for Excellence in Long Term Care at The Cedars

September 5, 2017

We are excited to share that The Cedars’ Kelly Yattaw has been chosen by the State of Maine Ombudsman for the EXCELLENCE IN LONG-TERM CARE AWARD.

Kelly has been working at The Cedars for 10 years – as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Rehabilitation Aide and super valuable team member. Here are some of Kelly’s special characteristics that we highlighted when nominating her for the award:

  • Understands the value of person-centered care and makes it a priority
  • Cultivates excellence and strong leadership qualities
  • Demonstrates sincere compassion and understanding of dementia
  • An inspiration to watch as she makes difficult situations appear easy
  • Embraces a challenge
  • Willing to assist staff, always
  • States what is on her mind
  • Infuses her incredible sense of humor in all aspects of her work
  • Takes on the transition to the Household Model of care through Learning Circles with staff and residents, storytelling as a means of learning, numerous hours of education, development and mentoring of staff

One staff member noted “I appreciate Kelly and her work on my Neighborhood more than I can put into words. She is an amazing caregiver and human. We are truly lucky to have her as part of our team.” Congratulations, Kelly. We are honored to learn from you and to have you as a role model for all of us.

Portland Wheelers Put Seniors Back on Bikes

June 16, 2017

When you were a kid your tricycle had one wheel in the front and two in the back. For a group of seniors it’s the opposite with two wheels in the front and one in the back.

Do not get in Dianne Lombard’s way as she wheels out the front door of The Cedars in Portland on her way to her favorite weekly activity. Biking with the Portland Wheelers. A group designed to give those who can’t ride a bike by themselves, but would love to go for a spin. Lombard sitting in the front as a wheeler, volunteers like Sue Wall in the back as the pilot.

“Once we get started all we are thinking about is what things look like from the wheelers point of view, so we talk about the flowers they are seeing and the birds they are hearing,” said Wall.

Had you told the wheelers three years ago they would get to go for a bike ride, you would have trouble convincing them. Now that an adaptive program exists to give 13 senior facilities another chance at putting on the helmet, there’s a line of participants like Fanny Bibeau eager for the chance to ride the trail around Back Cove.

“See all the pretty flowers and see the outline of the city and the ocean and get out in the fresh air,” said Bibeau. “We love it.”

Before each time out Bibeau and the other seniors from The Cedars are asked about their mood and how their day is going. The same questions are asked when they return to see what kind of a difference the time on the gravel and tar makes according to Portland Wheelers organizer Doug Malcolm.

“Beginning stages here to show that ride therapy on bicycles also has a tremendous impact on depression, feelings of isolation,” said Malcolm.

Portland Wheelers will be offering rides this summer to members of the public who aren’t able to ride a bike on their own Saturday mornings at Cycle Mania in Portland.

Major Donation to Help Set New Standard for Elder Care

wmtw-logoNovember 30th, 2016


 The Household Model will Bring Family-style Long-term care to Portland


December 2, 2016

Maine, with the oldest population of all the 50 states, is home to dozens of assisted living centers and residential nursing institutions. Now, thanks to a major gift from a Waterville couple, one of the state’s largest and oldest senior care facilities promises to bring a more welcoming and homelike approach to institutional elder care in Maine.

Founded in 1929 in Portland as the Jewish Home for the Aged, The Cedars is a nonprofit organization that provides independent-living apartments, assisted living, skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation services on an 11-acre campus on Ocean Avenue. It’s funded through a mix of Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care insurance and private payment. About 200 seniors of all faith backgrounds, both couples and individuals, call the campus home.

But a recent $4 million donation from board members Sidney and Elizabeth Geller of Waterville will help usher in a new era at The Cedars. As part of a larger, $30 million fundraising effort, the Gellers’ gift will enable the transition to an emerging national model of senior care known as the “household” model.

“The Cedars has always been pretty much cutting-edge and on top of the best practices in elder care,” said lawyer Sidney Geller in a phone interview earlier this week. The household model is “the next step” in improving residential care for seniors, he said. “It is literally a home, with a front door and a doorbell,” he said. “It’s a whole new concept.”

The Gellers, both in their 70s, hope their gift will inspire other donors to support the project, which also is being funded through a bank loan and a private bond issue.

It’s way more than a doorbell. Construction crews will break ground this spring for two new, large buildings on the campus. One will house a memory-support household for 20 residents with dementia. The other will feature two assisted living households, each designed for 20 residents. In addition, an existing building on the campus will be renovated into three, 20-resident households for long-term care residents, who need more intensive nursing support, and rehab patients.

These household units will not look or operate like nursing homes, most of which resemble a hospital. There will be no long corridors lined with shared bedrooms, no nurses’ station, no big, institutional kitchen. Instead, each household will feature its own front door, a home-style kitchen, dining area and living room and a private bedroom and bathroom for each resident. A small, cross-trained cadre of nurses, personal care aides, dietary aides and others will be assigned to each household, aiming for a more personal and consistent relationship between residents and staff.

The shift to the household model entails a significant change in the institutional culture of The Cedars, said President and CEO Kathy Callnan, a registered nurse who has been with the organization for more than 40 years.

“This will be a more resident-centered model of care,” Callnan said. “That means the residents make more of their own decisions. The staff isn’t getting everybody up at the same time or feeding people at the same time.”

If one resident is an early riser and another likes to sleep until noon, staff will accommodate those choices. If someone wants a snack in the middle of the afternoon, or a stroll outside before lunch, it will be readily available.

Cross-training and multiple professional certifications will be encouraged, Callnan said, allowing, for example, a housekeeper also to help a resident with personal care, or a nurse to prepare an impromptu grilled cheese sandwich.

Board Chairman George Markus said the transition represents a “dramatic change” at The Cedars, adopted only after careful consideration and touring an institution in Kansas where the household model is in full effect.

“The significance is not just for our organization or for our community here in southern Maine, but for the entire state,” he said. “Maine is the oldest state and only getting older. It’s essential to find the most effective, user-friendly way to care for our seniors who need extra help.”

The new households will replace some older, more traditional facilities at The Cedars, but the Osher Inn, a relatively new facility that provides assisted living services in private apartments, will not be remodeled at this time.

Although the new facilities won’t be ready for occupancy until mid-2018, staff members are already working with residents, family members and volunteers to develop new, more flexible roles and ways of interacting with each other. These sessions are being coached by staff from Action Pact, a private company headquartered in Kansas that promotes the household model as part of a larger approach to providing more homelike elder care.

“It really is about changing the culture rather than any specific training,” said LaVrene Norton, who founded Action Pact in 1996 and serves a consultant to organizations such as The Cedars that are seeking to transform the way they care for seniors.

Key to this change, she said, is cultivating a less hierarchical, more family-like environment. For staff, this requires a more flexible job description and a sense of shared leadership within the household unit.

“There are many decisions organizations have to make,” Norton said. “One hundred percent of the staff needs to be involved in the process.”

While the household model of long-term care has been evolving informally for the past 20 years, she said, it is experiencing a wave of popularity. Action Pact has worked with “hundreds” of organizations in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere, she said. The Cedars is the first in Maine, possibly in all of northern New England.

At the Maine Health Care Association, an industry group representing nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Executive Director Rick Erb said a few smaller facilities here provide household-like care. There’s little doubt that the model offers benefits to both residents and staff, he said, but most larger facilities can’t afford to make the kind of physical and operational changes it requires.

“We’ve been hoping to see something like this in Maine for a long time,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been watching in other states, and we certainly wish [The Cedars] well with it.”

As Maine’s nursing homes get older and demand extensive renovation or replacement, Erb said, it will become possible to design for the household model. But until then, the more familiar model of institutional elder care will likely prevail.

Waterville couple gives $4 million to Portland retirement community

pph-logoNovember 27, 2016

The Cedars is developing a new approach to senior care to create the atmosphere of a home.

WATERVILLE — A pair of Waterville residents are donating $4 million to a Portland retirement community.

Elizabeth and Sidney Geller are giving the money to The Cedars. The donation will result in the campus on Ocean Avenue being renamed The Elizabeth and Sidney Geller Senior Living Community at The Cedars.

The Cedars is developing a new approach to senior care that it says will shape the physical environment to create the atmosphere of a home.

It is a $30 million project that includes construction of two new buildings and renovation of an existing one.

Portland Retirement Center Gets $4 Million Donation

maine-public-radioNovember 17, 2016


The Cedars in Portland has received a $4 million donation from a Waterville couple to build a first-of-its-kind “household” model of senior homes in Maine.

Cedars’ president Kathy Callnan says the households will look and feel like private homes, starting with a front door that opens into a foyer.

“That then leads into a living room with a fireplace, a den, a dining room that abuts a spacious, open well-lit kitchen that’s actually open 24/7, just like your own home,” she says. “We are moving from an institutional model of care to a person-centered approach. So the resident is making decisions, literally, about when to get up, when to go to bed when to eat, and how to spend their day.”

Residents can use rehabilitation and skilled nursing services if needed.

Liz Geller says it’s an innovative vision for senior care.

“It will serve as a model for the state of Maine — the whole state — and hopefully, beyond,” she says.

The Cedars Awarded for Wellness

Wellness Award 3The Cedars was honored for our community wellness program on October 9, 2015 by the Healthy Portland, part of Healthy Maine Partnerships. The Healthy Portland Worksite Wellness Recognition event recognized The Cedars and nine other local businesses for their wellness accomplishments. Awardees shared their greatest worksite wellness achievements and organizations shared their many creative program ideas.

For almost ten years, The Cedars has focused on wellness for our residents and staff. In 2012 we received the Health Innovator Award from Harvard Pilgrim for our many employee programs. And our ongoing fitness classes at The Atrium and The Osher Inn have recently revealed amazing results, including a 400% increase in balance among that population following a 12 week course geared towards strength, flexibility and balance.

The Cedars CNA Awarded Excellence in Care

Misty Seeley Excellence in LTC The CedarsIn September 2015, the Ombudsman Program held its 13th Annual Excellence in Long-Term Care Awards event at the Blaine House in Augusta. Sixteen of Maine’s direct care workers were honored with the Excellence in Long-Term Care Award – including The Cedars very own Misty Seeley, CNA.
Maine’s First Lady, Mrs. Ann LePage participated in this special event presenting awards to the workers. Each recipient was chosen by an independent panel because of their demonstrated extraordinary leadership among their peers, dedication to resident rights and a commitment to providing excellent care. The Ombudsman Program recognized that every day Maine’s elderly and disabled citizens rely upon the skills and caring of the workers who provide essential care to them in long-term care facilities, like the Skilled Care Center at The Cedars.

Outstanding Advocacy Award: John Watson Receives National Recognition

John Watson, CFOThe Cedars is proud to announce that John Watson, Chief Financial Officer at The Cedars, has been elected to receive the 2015 Outstanding Advocacy Award from LeadingAge, a national association representing 6,000 non-profit aging-services organizations throughout the United States.

The award honors John Watson as a tireless advocate at the State level for educating legislators, executive branch officials, and fellow nursing facility administrators regarding Maine’s current system of reimbursing nursing homes.   Through his governor-appointed position on the Commission to Study Long Term Care, John worked with State Representatives to introduce a bill for a more equitable allocation system for care provided in nursing homes. In doing so, John was integral in reforming Maine Medicaid’s system of nursing home reimbursement and thereby assuring continued access to care for Maine’s oldest and frailest.


Excellence in Leadership: Angie Hunt Recognized by Leading Age

On Wednesday April 8 2015, Leading Age of Maine and New Hampshire honored Angie Hunt, Chief Operating Officer at The Cedars with their Excellence in Leadership Award. Angie was celebrated for her tireless work, incredible self-direction and unwavering commitment to seniors, staff and the long term care non-profit community.  During her 15 years with The Cedars, she has led the organization in the creation of innovative programs, collaboration and partnerships with community organizations, advocacy for seniors and long term care providers at State level, and the establishment of a bottom-up, all-inclusive workplace culture at The Cedars that embraces our direct care staff.

Angie has earned the respect and loyalty of everyone she works with through leading by example and working side-by-side with anyone who needs a hand. Community leaders, legislators and trustees immediately recognize Angie’s enthusiasm for any opportunity to improve quality care and to advocate for seniors.

MPBN Features The Cedars’ Music and Memory Program

Music and MemoryPORTLAND, Maine – Of the 1.3 million people living in Maine, about 37,000 have dementia. Over the next five years that number is expected to increase to more than 50,000. There is no cure, so treatment focuses on managing symptoms.

One nursing center in Portland recently employed a new strategy. The Cedars is the first in the state to use the “Music and Memory” program, which advocates say can tap deeply into dementia patients’ memories to help connect them to the present. Read the full story and interview here.

Standing Up for Seniors: John Watson Wins Advocacy Award

john watson award 1John Watson, Chief Financial Officer at The Cedars, received a special Advocacy Award from Leading Age on April 14, 2014 for his work on Maine’s Commission to Study Long Term Care Facilities.

John has been a leader in the statewide movement to change the ways our state pays for nursing home care for years, and his distinguished service on the Commission reflects his commitment to good finance – and fairness.

Leading Age, a large nationwide coalition of aging services providers, agrees. “John’s dedicated work toward making way for a more transparent and equitable State reimbursement system and his unrelenting focus on improving access to the Highest quality services possible is why Leading Age is proud to show the appreciation of its members with this Special Advocacy Award.” Denise Vachon, Leading Age Maine and New Hampshire Board of Directors, declared at the award ceremony.

Leading the Way in Wellness: The Cedars Wins 2012 Harvard Pilgrim Health Innovator Award

The Cedars Wellness Committee and Ed Kane, VP of Maine Harvard Pilgrim

HARVARD PILGRIM HEALTH CARE sees and supports many approaches to wellness in companies and organizations all across New England. So when we learned The Cedars had been chosen to receive the Harvard Pilgrim Health Innovator Award, we knew we were doing something right—and something special.

The Cedars holistic approach to wellness doesn’t just benefit our residents, patients and members.  It benefits our wonderful employees, providing exceptional employee benefits like our award-winning Wellness Plan.

Two years ago, The Cedars formed a Community Wellness Committee charged with helping our employees improved their health and well-being through educational programs and events.  In 2010 Harvard Pilgrim helped the committee organize an Employee Wellness Fair, offering blood pressure screenings, massages, fitness consultation and tips for healthy living.

“The Cedars’ reputation is, of course, that of a first-rate health care facility,” adds Ed Kane, Vice President of Maine Harvard Pilgrim.  “That essential element of its character carries over strongly to its employee wellness program, which has shown great results.  We are so pleased to present The Cedars with the Health Innovator Award.”


The Cedars Recognized for Excellence in Senior Living and Senior Care

Left to right: Gary Baldwin, Susan Dionne-Jones, Kaitlin Knight, Jen Curtis, April McDonald, Misty Seeley, Dianne Vigue, Judi Pierce, Linda Grisham, Phyllis McNeally

Left to right: Gary Baldwin, Susan Dionne-Jones, Kaitlin Knight, Jen Curtis, April McDonald, Misty Seeley, Dianne Vigue, Judi Pierce, Linda Grisham, Phyllis McNeally

End of Life Care Hospice Award 2011

The Skilled Care Center at The Cedars was honored on June 29, 2011, by Beacon Hospice, New England’s largest hospice provider, for the end of life care our patients receive. The Cedars was nominated for working professionally with a hospice provider, offering effective continuing education on end of life issues, compassionately assessing patients and promoting informed access to hospice services.

Executive director Angela Hunt and director of nursing Susan Dionne-Jones accepted the award. “All our nursing staff are honored to be recognized for this prestigious award,” Angela says. “End of life care is a sensitive and critically important field in medicine, and we are committed to staying on top of new practices and emerging data to best care for our seniors.”

Best of the Best in Portland, Maine – 12 Years Running

The Skilled Care Center and The Sam L. Cohen Rehabilitation Center at The Cedars have once again been named Greater Portland’s Best Elder Care Facility by Market Surveys of America. The award, which has been given to The Cedars for the past twelve years running, is based on public ballots and independent of any newspaper or publication.

“This award is a tremendous re-affirmation of the dedication and commitment of our staff,” says Kathryn Callnan, president and CEO of The Cedars. “Even after twelve wins,” she adds with a smile, “it’s still a great honor to receive it.”

Continuing a Sacred Tradition of Care

Staff accepting Best of Best award

Staff accepting Best of Best award

Jim Freilinger, Chair of The Cedars Board of Trustees, accompanied Kathy Callnan, president and CEO, to the 50th anniversary celebration of the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) in Atlanta, Georgia. Jim and Kathy joined over 150 representatives of senior living communities in lively discussions of the challenges and changes we experience manifesting our Jewish values in senior care.

Rabbi David Wolpe drew from Jewish tradition in reminding his audience that we are carrying out the age-old tradition of covenant—the call from Yahweh to His People. This covenant enlists us to respect our elders, hold them in high esteem and help them maintain their independence in fruitful lives at The Cedars.

Kathy Callnan Excellence in Leadership Award 2010

Kathy Callnan, president and CEO, was honored with the Excellence in Leadership Award by Maine and New Hampshire Aging Services on May 19, 2010. In bestowing this great honor, Audrey Weiner, Chair-Elect of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, noted not only Kathy’s accomplishments on behalf of The Cedars, but also in the greater Portland community.

A former nurse and head of The Cedars since1991, Kathy is the guiding force behind The Cedars’ recent expansion. She brings an executive’s drive and a nurse’s warmth to expanding our continuum of care and to staying at the forefront of innovations in medicine and wellness. Congratulations, Kathy, on a great honor well deserved.

An Award-Winning Indulgence: The Cedars Salon and Day Spa for Seniors

Lisa McLeod runs The Cedars Salon and Day Spal

Lisa McLeod runs The Cedars Salon and Day Spal

The Cedars Salon and Day Spa was recognized in May 2009 with the Innovation of the Year Award by Aging Services of Maine and New Hampshire. The inspired idea of Angela Hunt, executive director, the Salon and Day Spa is more than a luxury—it is a unique therapeutic experience designed just for seniors.

We designed a retreat where seniors can spend time with friends or family, be showered with undivided attention and boost their self image. “The best feedback is the sheer popularity,” says Angela. “We wanted to offer the type of experience that many people couldonly imagine, make it affordable and bring it right to them.”

Lisa MacLeod, a licensed cosmetologist, manages the daily operations of the program and personally provides most services. All her offerings are therapeutic and holistic, targeting all five senses. We even use “life histories” to engage seniors with cognitive issues in meaningful conversation while theyenjoy their treatments.

To surprise a loved one in our senior living community with a gift certificate to the Salon and Day Spa, contact us.