New Life for Old Homes

The retirement homes operated by Sage Oak are intended to evoke the feel of a single-family home. (Courtesy photo)

Under renovation for the better part of the year, the old house at 7129 Aberdeen Avenue welcomes new occupants in early 2018.

But don’t expect to see children running around the yard.

The fifth Sage Oak Assisted Living facility to open in Dallas since 2016 will be home to eight seniors who are still going strong but need a little help.

“Our company philosophy is we want to bring great quality care and do it in a home,” Sage Oak chief operating officer Loe Hornbuckle said. “You can do both.”

Hornbuckle describes the concept as “boutique assisted living,” a more upscale twist on residential care and part of a national trend toward residential care homes and assisted living facilities.

At Sage Oak homes, residents have private rooms but come together in common areas to share activities and meals together, he said.

“Our goal is to be Thanksgiving every day,” Hornbuckle said.

Large-scale assisted living facilities began springing up in the 1980s. Unlike skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, which can often feel like hospitals, assisted living communities offer residents a large degree of independence while still providing basic daily care.

Such communities often resemble upscale apartment complexes, and while that has been a positive development for many seniors, it’s not a good fit for everyone, Hornbuckle said.

“The problem is that a huge segment of the population doesn’t do well in that setting at all,” he said. “They don’t want to see 40 or 50 people every day, or walk down a long hallway, or eat a cafeteria–style meal.”

Sage Oak operates facilities on Forest Lane and Norway Road and continues to look for properties that would make good homes for seniors.

Each house purchased requires massive renovations before residents can move in.

Single-story homes with level floors are ideal starting points, he said. Attached garages are nice too, because they can be converted into resident rooms and bathrooms.

“Some of the homes that we buy have been for sale for
extended periods of time and don’t quite fit what a single family would need,” Hornbuckle said. “We can come and take a house that may be dragging the prices down for the rest of the market, do these renovations, and make it a [a property that helps lift home prices in its area.]”

When renovated, Sage Oak facilities typically feature eight bedrooms, and most of them have private bathrooms.

Each property is a licensed facility with the necessary fire suppression requirements, security systems, and Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant features. Layout resembles a large single-family home with a spacious living room, dining area, and kitchen.

But while the freshly remodeled homes are a good selling point, the quality of care and low staff-to-resident ration are even more important, Hornbuckle said. “A nice building is nice, but quality care is what drives everything.”