Twin Cedars Founders Had Early Vision Of Assisted Living
SHOHOLA — The late Twin Cedars Senior Living facility co-founder Bruce Harding and his wife Linda followed their dream of pioneering a user-friendly senior healthcare facility when they could not find such a facility for Linda’s grandmother. Linda and those who knew Bruce reflected on the outcome of the dream last week at one of Harding’s memorial services, held at Twin Cedars, on Little Walker Road, Shohola, and in interviews. He died on Dec. 3, following an accidental fall down a stairwell in his home, near Twin Cedars in Shohola, according to Linda.
Linda said that the germ of an idea to launch a new concept in senior assisted living started in 1970, when the couple grappled with the difficult issue of where to place Linda’s grandmother Jenny Otto, who then required skilled nursing home care. The Hardings visited multiple facilities in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other states to find the right one for Jenny. The Hardings, who were living in Indiana in the early 1970s, could not find one. So, they coached Linda’s parents long distance on how to take care of Jenny until her death years later.
Since Linda became a certified registered nurse in Pennsylvania in 1965, while Bruce was a nursing home administrator, the couple was aware of prevailing standards at nursing homes and assisted living centers. Linda said that in the 1970s, state laws were not as strict as today. Then, understanding the needs of patients, client programming, facility lighting, visitations, and outside trips were either non-existent or much scaled down compared to healthcare facility standards required today.
Linda said that Bruce saw one facility in Northeast Pennsylvania that was so dark, with only a small bare light bulb in a dark room, where clients sat all day in one seat, drooling, and staring off into space. After that visit and after the Hardings began documenting their coaching regimen, they began brainstorming ideas for opening their own facility. The full commitment took time because they had to weigh the financial and career logistics of leaving their jobs, investing in a facility, and working full time at their own facility.
By the 1980s, Linda said, “We knew what kind of a facility we wanted and what services would work for clients. We networked with our attorney Art Ridley, Milford banker Bill Kerstetter, and others. They encouraged us to develop a plan.
“We knew that we could do a better job of taking care of people than what we had seen…Originally, we wanted to build a nursing home, but felt strongly that God was leading us in another direction. That direction turned out to be building an assisted living center, where people could have more mobility than a nursing home (where clients would be more institutionalized)... for complete story get this week's issue.