By Terry McCormick

Portland Leader

A new center established to assist seniors with living needs is more than a care facility.

Front Porch Senior Living touts itself as a member of the Portland community and the neighborhood. Located at 115 Sunset Ave., in Portland, the center is actually in a 2,000 square foot home, which can house up to six residents at a time and allows them to live more independently than if they were at a nursing home, says owner Angela Bell.

"We are not a nursing home. We are a non-medical home. So we don't have a nurse or doctor on staff. The state has three requirements: Be 55 or older, be able to take your own medicine, we do have medicine reminders, but you have to be able to take it, and to evacuate with or without help within 13 minutes. Those are the only state requirements," Bell said.

Bell's brother, real estate agent Chris Heredia, purchased the location in December, and Bell went through the proper licensing and codes processes and opened for business on June 5. One resident has already moved in and another was scheduled to become a tenant over the weekend.

"We are private pay, so we don't do any type of government or insurance funding of any kind. Being 55

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or older is the only requirement," Bell said.

The home contains three bedrooms with two beds each, two bathrooms, a living area and a kitchen, plus a private room when residents want some alone time with visiting family or friends.

Bell, who has been in the health care industry as a career before opening Front Porch, said that she always believed that there was a better way of taking care of the elderly than a nursing home.

"I have been in health care since I was 16. I started out in a nursing home and kind of worked my way around. Every place that I've worked, in my mind, there's got to be a better way," she said. "So last year, I worked for a company, and I thought, 'You know, I can do this better.' So that's where the concept came from."

My brother wanted to be in real estate, so we partnered together. He bought the home, and I'm running the business."

Because the home is located in a neighborhood, Bell went through the city's planning and zoning board and received a conditional use permit to use the house as a business. She indicated that the neighbors in the area have had a positive response to Front Porch coming into their neighborhood.

"It's been very much positive. In fact, the neighbor across the street does our yard work," Bell said.

Bell is at the home every day and lives nearby. The home has staff present 24 hours a day to provide any assistance. There are no doctors or nurses on staff.

Bell said residents are allowed to have as much independence and responsibility as they want or can handle.

"Here, if they want to do their own laundry, they can. If they want to help us cook, they can do that. If they want to help with the cleaning, they can do that. It's totally up to them. For the most part, it's mom and dad don't need to be by themselves anymore. We have a 24-hour staff and we take care of all of the utilities. We have TVs in all the rooms. We pretty much take care of everything," she said.

Front Porch drives residents to their doctors' appointments when needed, and they plan to keep the seniors there active with outings and eventually field trips.

"We do local doctor's appointments. We're going to do outings once we get more residents. We're talking like Music on Main, or if you want to go get a milkshake, we'll get a milkshake. We'll do bigger things later on," Bell said.

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