New Respite Center to Feature Fully Accessible Treehouse

New Respite Center to Feature Fully Accessible Treehouse

Respite is a beautiful word even in the most general of uses. But when it’s applied to describe relief for caregivers, it can become a truly life-changing moment for everyone involved. Being a caregiver is incredibly difficult, often requiring great sacrifices and personal strain. In these situations, respite is a precious commodity that has a direct impact on health outcomes. That’s what makes the upcoming Lakeside Respite Center from Opportunity Enterprises (OE) so important.

Front view rendering. Image from OE.

OE provides a wide assortment of social and daily living services to individuals with disabilities and their families. This spring, the organization will break ground on the new $6 million facility on their Lake Eliza property in Porter County, which sits near the border of Lake County. The new facility is specifically intended to provide more options for caregivers to have a break.

The need for this kind of facility is big in Northwest Indiana. OE provided some statistics that reflect just how challenging caregiving for loved ones with disabilities can be for families in our region.

  • Parents of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities provide, on average, 57 hours of care per week. This is on top of care provided to possible other children in the household and/or career responsibilities.
  • Caregivers suffer from depression at twice the rate of the general population because they typically put the needs of others before their own.
  • 83% of such households struggle to find friendships and inclusive community experiences.
  • Locally, in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, 11,702 families have a child under the age of 34 are diagnosed with a cognitive disability.

Rear view rendering. Image from OE.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that AARP Public Policy Institute says, “Too much time without a break can lead to caregiver burnout, depression, and health problems. Every caregiver needs a caregiver — someone who will tend to you loved one for a few hours, days, or weeks so you can take care of yourself. But only 14% of family caregivers avail themselves of respite services, even though 38% believe doing so would help them.”


A Facility for Relief

Floorplan image. Click to enlarge. Image from OE.

With the new Lakeside Respite Center, caregivers will be able to schedule time away from their loved one to take care of their own needs, have a rest, visit friends, or anything else. The facility will operate on a unique and personal level. Every participant will have a staff member for them, and they’ll have the opportunity to choose what they’d like to do during their stay. There will be lots of different fun activities and things to learn.

“In addition to providing local caregivers the support they need, OE’s Lakeside Respite Center is equally as important for children and adults with disabilities. Often, they can struggle to make friendships and gain their independence outside of the home of their parents. This center focuses on enhancing everyone’s quality of life,” states Neil Samahon, president and CEO of Opportunity Enterprises.

The new center will encompass about 18,000 square feet for activities on a 158-acre wooded property beside Lake Eliza. There will be 21 beds for overnight stays, and an array of important features like wheelchair lifts, security, 24-hour staffing, separate wings for adults and children, and of course full accessibility.

A large kitchen will sit at the center of the building and will be surrounded by multiple living rooms for relaxing and enjoying a movie or video game. There will also be a multi-sensory therapeutic room, which is a relaxing space where a person can experience soothing sensory stimuli.

This is a concept image of what OE’s accessible treehouse may look like. Final concept and designer TBD. Image from Nelson Treehouse and Supply.

The exterior of the property is also going to have a lot of great amenities for visitors, the most exciting of which will be a fully accessible treehouse.

“Growing up, must of us had the excitement of climbing a tree and sitting in a treehouse. Many individuals that use our respite services have never had this opportunity. Our Lakeside Respite treehouse will be fully accessible with ramps that affords individuals with disabilities to ‘climb’ into the treehouse and see sights from heights never thought possible,” Samahon exclaims.

Additionally, the exterior of the Respite Center will have a large outdoor deck extending off the main building and a lake view seating area for dining or activities.

Work will be starting on the new center this spring and is planned to be complete by Spring of 2023.


More Breaks, Better Care

When the new OE Respite Center opens, more caregivers in Northwest Indiana will be given the chance to have a bit of downtime if they need it. That sounds like such a simple thing, but it will most certainly lead to better levels of care for the individuals they serve. Plus, their loved one will be able to have a great time in a brand-new facility built specifically for their needs. It’s likely this center will be a real gamechanger for families and a major asset for the region.



Construction Partners for the Lakeside Respite Center

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