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ere's No Place Like Home
RUTH LITTMANN S A WR ER
ke Engelbaum is a man with a mission.
The metro Detroit pharmacist and
sales consultant is plugging something
he calls a "godsend" for senior citizens
and their families. It's like a house with-
in a house — a suite enabling the elderly
to age at home.
Mr. Engelbaum represents QID
Homecare Suites Inc., based
in Troy. The company, which
is a subsidiary of QID Med-
ical Supply Services, distrib-
utes modular apartments
that fit into most standard,
The apartments have
trances and other features
designed to accommodate the
elderly and disabled. The fa-
cades blend in with the rest
of the home, so "we don't cre-
ate any ill will with the neigh-
bors," Mr. Engelbaum says.
QID enthusiasts like Mr.
Engelbaum promote the
suites as a healthy and inde-
pendent alternative to some programs
of institutionalized care.
"The biggest problem people have as
they grow older is the loss of dignity.
Many feel as though they're a burden (to
their families)," he says. "The suites let
people live with their families and, at
the same time, not be in the way."
The suites also spare relatives the
guilt that often accompanies putting
their loved ones in nursing homes, Mr.
Installing a QID Homecare Suite gen-
erally takes between three and five
The process is customized. First, the
construction workers dismantle the
garage door. A modular unit is trucked
in from Kansas, where it is manufac-
tured by Mobile Care Inc. The entire unit
costs approximately $30,000 to buy, but
also can be leased and dismantled when
the family no longer needs it.
The walls of the suite are made of fire-
retardant materials. A sprinkler system,
which taps into the main house's cold
water pipe, offers extra protection.
The steel floor of the suite is elevated
several inches above the ground for
better insulation. Not only does this
prevent ground moisture from seep-
ing in, but it also forms a vapor lock for
temperature control, Mr. Engelbaum
A heating unit, much like those used
in hotel rooms, warms and cools the
suite. Electricity for lamps, televisions
and other appliances comes from the
main home's existing system, but does
not irreversibly modify it.
QID works with a gerontological en-
vironmentalist to give the suite a homey
— not hospital — aura, Mr. Engelbaum
says. The suite fea-
tures a tightly knit
carpet and open
spaces for wheelchair
bathroom has a wide
door and five-foot
turning radius. The
sink is low, the mir-
ror is tilted, and the
toilet comes with a
power lift," which
also helps residents
points out that his
company, in an effort
to avoid disrupting
the hot water supply
to the main house,
has included a water
heater behind the
A roll-in shower and high-tech bath-
tub constitute other options.
"One of the most disrupting things for
many elderly is when they cannot ad-
here to their whole ritual of keeping
clean," Mr. Engelbaum says.
Exterior Unit Floor Plan
A heating unit, like those in hotels,
provides climate control.
The suite can
familiar to the
has a wide
A high-tech tub can help
"The suites let people
live with their families."
The National Institute of Aging fund-
ed a study to consider the HomeCare
Suites as an alternative to nursing
homes.The study found that all the peo-
ple using the Suite would recommend
it to others.
The HomeCare Suite permits all
family members to have their own
space and the comfort of having loved
— Ike Engelbaum
And one of the most significant bene-
fits of the suite, he adds, is that it can be
furnished to each resident's liking.
"The person is not put into a foreign
environment. There are certain chairs
and certain tables the senior citizen has
a certain attachment to," he says.
The suite has two doors. One leads to
the main house. The other leads to an
entrance/exit ramp outside. Visitors can
come and go. An elderly person can
maintain a social life without hamper-
"In my opinion," Mr. Engelbaum says
"This is the way of the future."
Enlarged version of tub area.