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Blocher Homes residents say they’re not ‘budging’

Assisted living residents say they were 'blindsided'
Posted at 5:49 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 18:26:07-04

WILLIAMSVILLE, NY (WKBW) — Residents at an assisted living home in Williamsville are taking a stand against plans to relocate them. Blocher Homes is considering selling the facility. But residents have concerns. Some tell us they were “blindsided” by the proposal.

Protest signs created by Blocher residents.

“Blocher Residents Wont’ Budge.” “I’m Leaving Here Feet First.” “Hell No! We Won’t Go!”

Those are some of the protest statements created on posters by assisted living residents at Blocher Homes in Williamsville.

Beechwood Continuing Care is Blocher's affiliate and recently told residents it wants to sell the property on Evans to People Incorporated. People wants to re-purpose the property for mixed income, special need adults.

If that happens, Blocher residents would be relocated to Beechwood on Millersport highway in Getzville.

“We were blindsided,” declared Sydney MacDougall, 75-year-old resident.

“Yeah - it was a complete surprised,” responded Arlene Bolton, 92-year-old resident.

MacDougall and Bolton are against the move. Both have the financial means to afford the high-quality provided at this assisted living center and don't want to be moved.

“It is a fantastic place – it's a jewel and none of us - I think we would all be very disappointed if we had to move,” commented MacDougall.

“It has been our happy place for the last three and a half years and we left a home that my husband designed, and we loved and to come here and say that we've been happy – is really something,” explained Bolton.

Residents say Beechwood CEO Daniel O’Neill has been listening to their concerns. They declined an on-camera interview but issued a written statement from O’Neill.

It says they are "still very early in the process but have tried very hard to be as open and transparent" about this plan. O’Neill’s statement goes on to say they wish they could "just pick up Blocher and move it to Getzville."

We are still very early in the process but we have tried very hard to be as open and transparent as possible in sharing the most current information with our residents about the potential re-purposing of Blocher Homes.

"The well-being of our residents has been and always will be our number one priority and we are very sensitive to making any transition as smooth and dignified as possible. I have personally met with many of the residents and understandably some are against the proposed re-purposing of the facility, others are interested in learning more about the proposed initiative, and others still have shared their understanding and support of the concept.

Blocher Homes is a known gem within our continuum of care yet it has faced occupancy challenges, increased competition and a trend of a more frail population. We all wish we could just pick up Blocher and move it to Getzville but obviously that is not possible so we continue to enlist resident feedback on the potential design and living features of the existing space to be re-purposed at Beechwood."

Still residents tell us they are worried this is being “fast-tracked".

“I think there's a monetary issue and so I don't know,” Bolton remarked.

Beechwood Continuing Care in Getzville.

Residents have a list of concerns. Bolton wants to make sure couples will still have a suit to stay together. They also want the foods they are served duplicated if forced to move. They have been told they would get their own wing at Beechwood.

Meanwhile residents who live near Blocher in Williamsville are also circulating a petition against the proposal and on behalf of the assisted living residents.

We also reached out to People, Inc. for a response to the project. People issued the following statement from Rhonda Frederick, president and CEO, People Inc.:

"People Inc. is committed to working to provide new and mix-income housing options for people within our communities. Blocher Homes (and Beechwood) are outstanding partners and we are confident that they will handle the transition in a way that continues to provide a high quality of life for its current residents.About:People Inc., a multispecialty non-profit health and human services agency, provides programs and services to more than 10,000 people with developmental disabilities, special needs, their families and older adults throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. Since 1970, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity."

The project is pending state approval.