Senior home at 63 Washington St. to close after 120 years

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 12:30pm

CAMDEN — After serving the community's aging seniors for approximately 120 years, Sixty-Three Washington Street is closing its doors.

With a capacity for six residents, the Board of Directors has struggled for the last three years to secure new residents in order to keep this cozy facility alive. The current cultural emphasis on seniors aging at home, combined with the area's other larger assisted living facilities with large diversified staff better equipped to absorb the numerous regulations and codes, led to the difficult decision to close according to Board members. Although the Board explored providing beds for MaineCare recipients and obtained a provider number, Maine Care beds must be purchased from an existing facility that is closing or downsizing MaineCare services; each Maine Care bed is licensed at a cost of $10-15,000 at auction.

The facility has been a home for the area's aging citizens for nearly 120 years. Built in 1898 by the Benevolence Society as the Camden Home for Aged Women, the First Congregational Church purchased the home in the 1980's, welcoming both men and women. In recent years, independently owned and managed by the Board of Directors, it became best known as the home of the late Kert "Waving Man" Ingraham, who would sit curbside and wave to passersby. Ingraham died in November 2016.

Over the last several years, the Board of Directors worked to breath new life into the facility, by updating the home's six bedrooms and creating two new activity and sitting rooms away from the noise of the television. In an effort to diversify, the Board made the decision to provide adult day services. Initially permitted to take a small number of participants under the existing license, it was officially licensed to accept 10 participants a day in October 2017. While this concept appeared to make sense, to provide seniors with activity, socialization, supervision and a home cooked meal, the practice of "aging in place" and the existence of six in-home agencies serving the midcoast area, served to limit the number of applicants. Those who participated loved the services, but the Board found it difficult to sustain a viable program with only a couple of participants per day.

Thus, it is with heavy hearts that the Board has decided to close Sixty-Three Washington Street as a home for seniors.The future of the facility itself is somewhat uncertain, but one thing is known: Board by-laws require that any remaining funds be used to address other nonprofits in the community. Hence, the Board has made the decision to sell the property and use the funds to help other nonprofit needs in the area.

Finally, a special thank you is extended to the community for the unfailing financial and emotional support that has sustained Sixty-Three Washington Street these many years. There is a solid sense of community expressed that is invaluable in these changing times. Recent donors should know that the funds are being used to maintain the home during this time of transition. If anyone has questions and concerns, they may call the home at (207) 236-3638 and leave a message. A Board member will return your call.