McCrites Bring Senior Care ‘Home’ to the Northland

When Pat McCrite was growing up in North Kansas City, his mother managed boardinghouses for senior citizens. She helped provide a comfortable family atmosphere for elders who weren’t safe or comfortable living alone.

Throughout college, Pat helped with administrative and maintenance work, getting to know the boardinghouse residents. This exposure, and passion for art and architecture, were the catalyst for Pat’s life work.

129642 McCritePlazaSince1975A 1962 graduate of North Kansas City High School, he took advantage of a football scholarship to study at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., majoring in fine arts. At 21, he earned his skilled care administrator’s license, the youngest person in Kansas to do so. After he met a beautiful psychologist and education teacher, his fate was sealed. He married Judy, and they founded a business recreating the concept of “nursing home.” In 1975, they opened the doors to McCrite Plaza in Topeka, providing skilled nursing care for seniors.

“Judy and I designed our business to be a home, not a ’facility,’” Pat says. “Each apartment is as beautiful and comfortable as the homes where residents spent their lives. Compassionate staff is fundamental, but beautiful décor and surroundings, vibrant activities, art and color also influence mental and physical well-being.” As their business flourished, they added independent as well as assisted living apartments, providing a full continuum of care for elders.

While growing their business, Pat and Judy were also busy raising their family of five children. Being a McCrite meant spending nights, weekends and holidays at the family business. Everyone was put to work in some fashion – volunteering to spend time with elders, landscaping, entertaining and all duties as assigned.

Nearly 40 years later, with their children grown and their Topeka business booming, the McCrites pursued Pat’s lifelong dream of returning to the Kansas City Northland to expand the family business. “People my age can relate,” Pat laughs. “Not only would this give me a chance to return to my roots and the community where I grew up, but it would help keep my kids in the business, and our grandchildren close by.”

In December 2013, the McCrite family opened McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff. Its 163 apartments offer luxurious living with beautiful views of downtown Kansas City and the Briarcliff area. Most apartments are independent living, but the community also features assisted living apartments with additional personal care and nursing assistance for seniors, when needed.

McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff incorporates a holistic approach to wellness into the daily lifestyle of the community. “Our full-time wellness coordinator leads daily yoga and exercise classes, works one-on-one with residents, and teaches mindfulness and breathing to reduce strength and anxiety,” explains Pat and Judy’s eldest son, Cassidy.

“State-of-the-art equipment in our fitness center helps strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. We have TRX classes, a sauna and a therapeutic whirlpool tub. Our activities team organizes frequent outings to theater, music and arts venues, as well as vineyards and restaurants, assuring that our residents maintain the vibrant, active lifestyle to which they are accustomed.”

Cassidy manages McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff. His sister, Kayla McCrite Hoffman, is the social worker and move-in coordinator. Brother-in-law Joe Cavaluzzi serves as associate director, dealing with operations while his wife, Katie McCrite Cavaluzzi, raises their four children.

With McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff nearing full occupancy, another expansion is underway. The McCrites will break ground this spring to add rehabilitation services, memory care and long-term skilled care to the community. “We often hear that our community feels like family, that there’s a warmth and sense of caring here that they don’t get at some of the larger, nationally owned communities,” Cassidy says. “Our latest expansion allows us to extend the same gracious living to residents as they age in place, so they can remain here with their extended family even if their health declines to the need for skilled care.”

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