Architects chosen to design Hopi assisted living facility

FIRST MESA, Ariz. - The Hopi Assisted Living Facility Task Team (HALFTT) has announced the selection of Encompass Architects Southwest of Phoenix as the architects for its assisted living facility.

Over the past three years, HALFTT members have toured other facilities-mostly in the Albuquerque area-ranging from 10-story buildings to a house where four or five clients lived, according to HALFTT Chairperson, Linda Honahnie.

The team also looked at various architectural firms before selecting Encompass.

"We were impressed by the fact that the company has a separate studio devoted to the design of assisted living facilities," Honahnie said. "All they do there is design these types of facilities. Say you want to focus on gardening and landscaping-the architects will design raised beds so those in wheelchairs or using walkers won't have to bend down too far to work..."

"They have also considered the appliances, and design these as a way to make them easily accessible," Honahnie continued. "Even the lighting ... is considered, both outside and inside, taking into consideration the changes in eyesight as people grow older ... Encompass has taken a lot of care in designing these facilities [and] we feel we've made a good choice."

Honahnie is also impressed that company representatives have asked to meet with the Hopi Elderly Committee on the design of the new facility.

"They want to hear from the elders themselves about their needs and what they would like to see," Honahnie said.

The Hopi Elderly Committee includes representatives from each of the villages. The monthly meetings will move from village to village so each village will have a voice in the design.

HALFTT is currently involved in the selection of a project officer. Once the project officer has been selected, the task team will start the design process.

The next HALFTT meeting is scheduled for August 17 at 9 a.m. at Kykotsmovi.

Honahnie expressed gratitude on behalf of HALFTT to the Hopi Tribal Council for their continued support for this project. The Task Team was established by Hopi Tribal Council Resolution H-067-2008, charging it with the oversight and direction of the design and construction of the Elderly Assisted Living Facility-taking into consideration Hopi cultural values and practices as a guide in planning and implementing the delivery of all services envisioned for the elders in their respective villages.

"The Tribal Council is in full support of this facility; they have also agreed to subsidize the project. They are fully aware that this facility is needed," Honahnie said.

Encompass, with offices in Phoenix and Lincoln, Neb., bills itself as "The only Native American woman-owned with the capability to produce $30 million or more of project value concurrently. Our broad base of project experience allows us to work with tribal communities on all their building needs."

Larry Polingyumptewa, who serves as the vice chairman for HALFTT, recognized and thanked Leo Lacapa Jr.-the Clan Leader for the Corn and Water Clan at First Mesa for approving the land acquisition for the assisted living facility. Both Polingyumptewa and Ivan Sidney serve as the spokesperson for Lacapa.

"Since we started our work, HALFTT has been looking for land to set aside for the facility," Polingyumptewa said. "We looked all across the reservation, but we always came up against clan land barriers. It's been hard. But when we approached Leo, he was all for it because it was for the well-being of all of the Hopi people.

"Leo has approved other land acquisitions for public welfare," Polingyumptewa continued. "Earlier projects, like the Hopi Health Care Center and the First Mesa Day School are built on land Leo set aside. The Assisted Living Facility will be next to the health care facility, so people will have access to the services there-it's just a walk away."

In response to the question as to whether the team has considered who might actually move in to the new facility, Honahnie said that it is important to remember that the assisted living facility will be accepting elders who are for the most part independent and able to care for themselves.

"There will be staff on board, including a nurse, to make sure medications are taken on time and to look in on the residents," Honahnie said. "But as far as identifying who will be moving in-that is yet to be determined."

The Office of Elderly Services, who oversees elders in other off-reservation living facilities, will assist in the screening of elders to see if they qualify. If these elders do qualify, and want to move to the First Mesa facility, it will be their choice as to whether they want to come home, Honahnie indicated.

"This is something that the Office of Elderly Services has wanted for some time-to keep our own elders closer to home," Honahnie said. "That is our main purpose."

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