H.E.L.P. Task Team identifies model for assisted living facility

KYKOTSMOVI-First Mesa was confirmed as the home site of the proposed assisted living facility on the Hopi Reservation. But tribal elders who are currently receiving care off the reservation will not find a bed there anytime soon. The project is still at least two years from completion, and funding remains the biggest challenge.

"One thing we want to make clear is that this is to be an assisted living facility," Leon Nuvayestewa Sr. said in a Nov. 19 interview. "This is not a nursing home. We will be serving elders who are still mobile and who can take care of themselves but who have no family to watch over them."

Nuvayestewa, the director of Elderly Services, went on to say that there are currently 16 Hopi elders residing in nursing homes outside the reservation, but the reality is that only about seven or eight may be able to move to the proposed assisted living facility.

The Hopi Elderly Living Project (H.E.L.P.) Task Team met Nov. 2 to examine, discuss and select models of services for the Assisted Living Facility. Darlene Franklin of the New Mexico Geriatric Education Center presented three models resulting from the Hopi Elderly Comprehensive Needs Assessment report presented in October, and after consideration, the task team chose the model providing a facility with home and community-based services.

Other considerations include whether the facility will provide supervisory, personal and directed care, the reality of nursing shortages that would make it difficult to operate fully staffed, and of primary concern-funding.

The facility is currently planned to provide 16 beds for community elderly.

Nuvayestewa also explained the status of progress for the project, planned for completion in August 2009.

"We are preparing the Program Justification Document, to justify the building of the facility and the services it will provide, and it will be completed at the end of the month on Nov. 30," Nuvayestewa said. "One of our biggest challenges is the lack of available funding. Last year we succeeded in getting half of the design money for the project thanks to the Office of the Vice Chairman."

He pointed out that the project is still in the planning phase, and that the task team will present its plan to the Hopi Tribal Council for their acceptance after the plan is completed.

"We hope to be in the design phase by February 2008," Nuvayestewa said. "That depends on getting the other half of the funding needed-an additional $142,000. We should be finished with the design phase by August 2008."

Nuvayestewa expects that the construction phase for the assisted living facility will begin once the design phase is completed.

"Again, our biggest challenge is the funding," Nuvayestewa said. "There is currently no money for the construction phase. The Chairman's Office is currently helping us get additional money for the design phase."

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