Wichita non-profit seeks to ease the transition as KMH prepares to close

Empowered Senior is offering up services to help senior residents and their families who have six weeks to make new arrangements.
Empowered Senior is offering up services to help senior residents and their families who have six weeks to make new arrangements.
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 8:53 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The sprawling KMH Senior Living campus is a long-time staple in Wichita’s Delano neighborhood.

Now, its future is uncertain after it surprised many people by announcing Friday that its doors would close at the end of the year.

It leaves the seniors living there and their families six weeks to find a new place to live.

Empowered Senior Board of Directors Member Brian Speer said, “60 some odd new people into a strained market right now for housing, and we just want to let them know we will help them find the best place.”

Empowered Senior’s Speer and Bretta Stark were among those to learn of the impending closure Friday.

Stark, Empowered Senior’s Community Education Director, said, “I was heartbroken. We’d been working with them for a while. They’re one of our education partners. So it’s sad to see them go.”

The non-profit quickly got to work. Empowered Senior offers educational resources and seminars to seniors and consulting services for seniors to assist with items like housing.

“We’ve been on the phone with several families already, setting up appointments for tours already. Our Saturday’s been pretty busy,” said Speer.

One of Empowered Senior’s offerings is no-cost placement services to find the best place for seniors to call home. They’re the only National Placement and Referral Alliance member in the Wichita area.

“We want to look at not just the medical side of it, which is always important,” said Speer, “but we want to look at the social and economic pieces of it. What’s affordable for these families, how long is their money going to last, what can they really afford to do? And then, what’s the social aspect of it? What types of things do they like to do?”

Speer said they then provide two to four options that could be the best fit for them to choose from.

“Those beds are going to go fast. Those rooms are not going to last. This is already a pretty stressed market because of staffing, and so having people that are professionals in this area that can sit back and say we know where the staffing is, we know what’s available, that’s going to be really important,” he said.

They’ve been reaching out to senior living communities to see what options are also out there.

Empowered Senior’s founder and executive director said this is the first time they’ve offered up their services in this way.

They have also scheduled a resident meeting at KMH for Tuesday to cover with seniors what they can provide.

“The resident meeting we have set for Tuesday to be able to tell them who we are, what our services are, help them make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Stark. “It’s a hard time of year to be moving, and I mean, it’s hard to be moving at any time, but especially during the holidays. So, we want families to know that we’re there to help their loved one and the residents there to know that we’ll be there to help them find a place to call home again.”

One of the group’s main goals is to make this transition as seamless as possible.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is just let everybody know that you don’t have to panic. Calms down. There’s a whole team of people coming in to help,” Speer said.

They also offer a moving service specifically designed for seniors. That program does have a cost to it.

Empowered Senior can be reached by calling 316.686.4500.

Speer and Stark said something else they’re thinking about is the employees at KMH, who they have gotten to know during their partnership. With the demand for workers in long-term care, they hope the KMH employees will be able to find other opportunities at other Wichita communities and remain in the field.

12 News reached out to KMH Saturday but no one was available to comment.

In July 2021, KMH ended its skilled nursing service, which required relocating 50 residents.