SCBMA revolutionizing senior care in the Pee Dee by implementing ‘household model’

Living at Bethea Retirement Community’s new Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center, which opened in January 2021, is like “living at home, but better,” its residents say.

Privacy is the priority at the new facility in Darlington. The household model features four distinct households that prioritize residents’ privacy and the feel of being at home. Living spaces are well appointed and comfortably sized, with private bedrooms or suites with private bathrooms, and a spa and amenities of personal choice. The overall design and landscape of the center contributes to a feeling of being part of a traditional neighborhood, with a semi-public entry hall that is only accessible through the front door.

Once invited in, visitors may be welcomed by residents into the semi-private spaces: through the household’s living or dining room, or through the semi-private hallway to the resident’s private suite or bedroom. Front doors, patios, and front and back porches allow residents easy access to outdoor spaces. Residents can also host friends and family in a private dining room or indulge in sweet treats at the ice cream café.

SCBMA President Tom Turner welcomes a visitor, Mitzy Leach, for a tour of the new skilled nursing and rehabilitation center at Bethea Retirement Community in Darlington.

The same caregivers work with the same residents each day, which affords residents and staff alike the opportunity to truly know one another, nurturing a family environment. This also allows the staff to be responsive to a resident’s needs and preferences.

Residents choose how to spend their time. They get up as they wish, eat when and what they want, bathe when and how they prefer, participate in activities as they choose, host their family and friends as they desire, and go outdoors as they please on grounds designed with their safety in mind. It is like living at home, but with more supportive care so family can enjoy being family again without the added responsibility of serving as full-time caregivers.

The expansion, the first in over 20 years for South Carolina Baptist Ministries of Aging, also includes the latest technology. All residents have a wireless call system, electronic medical records, internet access, and smart televisions in bedrooms and the common area. Bethea has also installed a UV/ionization system.

The new facility — made possible because of the faithful stewardship of SCBMA and South Carolina Baptists’ support of the ministry — comes after much prayer and preparation from SCBMA’s board of trustees and ministry leadership.

“Bethea’s heritage is rooted in its involvement in the local community, and this new skilled nursing option continues our commitment to serve elders so that all those we serve may thrive,” said Tom Turner, SCBMA’s president and CEO.

Paying homage to its Darlington heritage, the 2,200-plus-square-foot therapy gym has a raceway theme. The flooring is reminiscent of asphalt, and the decor includes a mural wrap of victory imagery to motivate rehab guests to continue their “race” to get back to their daily lives and normal routines.

Bethea’s rehabilitation gym features an outdoor therapy garden with a beach area and various outdoor surfaces that allow residents to experiment walking in different places, a therapy car to practice entry and exit, and a therapy laundry and kitchen to practice daily household tasks.

Bethea Executive Director Ben Spurling said, “We all live our lives in pursuit of opportunities to grow, to learn, to experience moments of joy. At Bethea, we refer to these principles as ‘abundant living.’

“Working toward this goal of providing abundant life for seniors is always a challenge, and nowhere is this truer than in the skilled nursing environment, where it is easy to lose sight of those principles focusing on the very real health needs of residents,” Spurling said. “That is why we are so excited about the household model, which provides us with an innovative framework that weaves the threads of abundant living directly into the fabric of care that we provide to residents every single day.”

For additional information, visit or contact Jenny Doll, director of marketing, at 843-395-4402.

— Annie Eveleigh is director of advancement for South Carolina Baptist Ministries of Aging in Columbia.

Resident Room

Living Room

Dining Room