Nursing Home for Your Backyard in a Medical Care Cottage

backyard pod for agingEveryone has concerns about what to do with aging family members, but Ken Dupin created a solution: Build them a pod. The Salem, Virginia-based pastor is the chief innovator of MEDCottage -- a nursing home-like mobile facility that families can place in their backyard as a place to care for the elderly.

The 284-square-foot units are able to connect to a home's electricity and water supplies and can can be placed on your property wherever there is space. Other features include medical considerations such as hazardous waste disposal, pathogen detection systems and devices that check your loved one's vital signs. There's also the potential for other monitoring systems including a webcam.

"I'm a minister so I visit people in nursing homes. I just never met anybody who wanted to be there," explains Dupin. "One of the greatest fears people have is being isolated from our families in our final stages of life. In the United States, our accumulated lifetime wealth is spent in that process. This is what we came up with to address the problem."
Dupin argues that the units would be financially easier on families as well. According to a survey by Genworth Financial, the median rate for a private room in a nursing home is $206 per day ($6,180 per month), though rates vary tremendously according to geography and level of care. When MEDCottages hit the market this fall, Dupin estimates that they'll be available for $1,500 to $2,000 per month, saving residents that don't need 24-hour care approximately $50,000 per year.

"We're not in the health care business," Dupin explains. "We just provide a tool to help families manage the care of the person they care for. That's the whole reason for our project, to give people easy access to their family."

But the units won't just affect those who live in them and the families who visit. Critics argue that MEDCottages violate zoning ordinances, reduce property values and could create a tidal wave of competitor products that can consume a suburban or rural landscape like wildfire.

"Is it a good idea to throw people into a storage container and put them in your back yard?" Fairfax County (Va.) Supervisor Jeff C. McKay stated in an interview with The Washington Post. "This is the granny pod. What's next? The college dropout pod?"

Love them or hate them, the popularity of the cottages seems to be increasing just as fast as the demographic who needs them. The first wave of MEDCottages will launch this September, perhaps with the gratitude of fiscally torn families and the ire of hungry real estate agents.

What are your thoughts? Would you retire in a mobile medical cottage?
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