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Planned day care center at GreenFields aims to help workers and seniors

The pitter patter of little feet is coming to a Lancaster nursing home and senior living community.

Construction of a $1.8 million day care is set to begin in March at the GreenFields Continuing Care Community, where workers will be able to enroll their children at lower rates than they would have to pay elsewhere, according to GreenFields officials.

The day care center would provide the chance for children and the elderly to interact while also making GreenFields more competitive in attracting workers amid a tight job market.

"It is getting harder and harder to get good employees because of low unemployment," said David McMullen, executive director of development and marketing for the Niagara Lutheran Health System's foundation.

The on-site, 6,300-square-foot day care center is expected to accommodate 85 children ranging from infants to up to 12 years old. About 500 workers care for residents and patients at GreenFields' nursing home, assisted living facility, memory care unit, independent apartments and rehabilitation services – about 80 percent of whom have children.

Besides creating a competitive edge in attracting employees, Chris Koenig, president of Niagara Lutheran Health, said that the center will provide peace of mind for workers, who will be able to visit their children during meal breaks.

“It demonstrates the company culture we’re developing where we can now support our employees in both their work life and family life,” Koenig said.

Residents will also benefit from having little ones around at GreenFields, McMullen said.

According to research studies, he said, "elderly participants of intergenerational programs display more social abilities when around children, have increased feelings of well-being and overall life satisfaction and have lower rates of depression."

If there are spaces available after children of employees are accommodated, the day care will also be open to families in the community, McMullen said.

In addition to the day care, the new building also will include a separate 3,000-square-foot wellness and fitness center open to residents and workers.

"The wellness facility will offer more opportunities for residents to socialize with their peers as well as campus staff in an informal and social environment," McMullen said. "This will help deepen the overall sense of campus community among staff and residents."

Niagara Lutheran hopes to open the day care by September when older children who often babysit in the summer will be heading back to school. Relying on donations, in part, to help cover construction costs, anyone interested in making a contribution can contact McMullen by email at dmcmullen@niagaralutheran.org.

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