Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge (WCBR), the only Lifecare senior community in the region, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
It all started as a way to meet the needs of local seniors, and over time became a wide-ranging magnet for exceptional, accomplished people of varied backgrounds who have lived all over the world. It is an extraordinary community in a remarkable place.
“One Sunday I was discussing the needs of seniors in our community with friends over coffee. Many of our neighbors were wanting something different when it came to retirement living in Charlottesville. It was up to us to find a solution. The answer became Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge,” says Rick Richmond, longtime Charlottesville attorney and one of WCBR’s founders.
Local leaders looked around and liked what they saw at Westminster-Canterbury of Richmond. Consulting with the leadership of that community, they shaped a place that would employ its best ideas, but also have its own unique character.
The steering committee that created what became WCBR had two main challenges: finding a suitable location and financing the initial $25 million. The money was secured, and the land was purchased. “At the time, it was considered fairly risky,” notes John Franklin formerly of BB&T Capital Markets, who assisted with the financing. “It was a bold move,” he recalls – but it was obviously the right one.
In 1990, Route 250 on Pantops Mountain was just a two-lane highway with little or no development. The surrounding trees were smaller and less full, so that early residents of WCBR could see the tourist buses climb the mountain to Monticello miles away.
Today, WCBR is home to 450 residents who have had diverse careers. From top executives to researchers and engineers to senior policymakers from Washington, they’re drawn to the cosmopolitan appeal of the University of Virginia and the stunning beauty of the surrounding landscape.
They are attracted by such features as:
- The Lifecare plan. WCBR offers Lifecare, which means residents can enjoy independent living while knowing they will have the best of assisted living, memory care, long-term skilled nursing care and rehabilitation therapies at the same monthly fee.
- The nonprofit environment. As a nonprofit, WCBR’s focus is on improving the lives of residents, not on creating profit for investors. This feeds a passion for bringing excellence to all facets of the community.
- The Fitness and Aquatic Center. WCBR has the facilities, inside and out, and the programs to promote health and fitness well into an active senior’s advanced years.
- The food. From gourmet to casual, dining is crafted to be a highlight of every resident’s day. Individual tastes drive the dining experience.
- Four high-quality levels of care, all with private rooms. Whether the need is for assisted living, memory care, short-term rehabilitation services or skilled nursing, it is personally focused and outcome-driven.
For much of WCBR’s 30th year during these uncertain times, many services have been provided in a different way. Meals have been delivered to residents’ apartments and cottages rather that served in the dining facilities. Lectures and fitness classes have been streamed, as social distancing has been practiced to keep WCBR one of the safest places to live in an age of pandemic. As normal life returns, Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge looks forward to the next 30 years and more.