It was impossible to escape “the question.” If it wasn’t the first question people asked, it was on the list.

“Do you have to be Scottish to live at the Scottish Home?”

While the answer to that question has been “no” for more than a century, the name of North Riverside’s oldest institution, which provides assisted living, intermediate and skilled care and Alzheimer’s and dementia care, was a barrier.

Following a nearly two-year long rebranding effort, on Oct. 16 Gus Noble, president of Chicago Scots, announced that the institution was changing its name to Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care.

“It’s been on our minds for a couple of years,” Noble said. “Like our peers in the industry, ethnic-based homes have a strong cultural support from people who set up the community in the first place. But that kind of comes with it the risk that the name that is above the door eventually hurts rather than helps.”

The board of Chicago Scots, also known as the Illinois St. Andrew Society, has operated a home for the aged in what is now North Riverside since 1910. The original building burned down in 1917, and was immediately rebuilt, so the rebranding marks the centennial of that rebirth and the start of a new chapter in its history.

“We felt we needed a name that reflects the voices of the community, that reflects our core values, that reflects the things we do, who we are and who we serve,” Noble said.

In 2016, Chicago Scots unveiled its Caledonian House, a free-standing assisted living facility on the North Riverside campus devoted to treating those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Scottish Home name will live on as the name of the building that houses the original assisted living/nursing care facility on the campus.

The new care facility was purposefully named. Caledonia is the Latin word the Romans used for present-day Scotland, so it’s still tied to the organization’s heritage, but in a subtle way.

While officials considered a dozen or so options for a new name, Caledonia was always a front-runner, and the reaction to the name Caledonian House was what officials hoped for.

“We had it in our minds when we developed the Caledonian House that that might be a good opportunity for us to test how people feel about the name Caledonia,” Noble said.

Part of that test included using a dedicated phone line for specifically marketing the Caledonian House and tracking what kinds of questions people asked as opposed to people calling the Scottish Home.

“Whereas people may phone the Scottish Home and ask the logical question, ‘Do you have to be Scottish to live there,’ when they were phoning the Caledonian House’s direct phone line in response to an ad or a piece that was just about the Caledonian House, never once did they ask that question.”

“In my mind, we were proving to ourselves that the challenge that we faced as far as first impressions we were overcoming with the name Caledonian House.”

The rebranding effort for Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care also included the adoption of a new logo, which again refers to Scotland, but not overtly and whose imagery evokes the organization’s core values

The simple logo appears to be a pair of intertwined hearts topped by seven narrow lines that evoke rays of light or the top of a flower.

The inspiration for the logo, said Noble, is the luckenbooth – a traditional piece of Scottish jewelry, typically a brooch showing two intertwined hearts, signifying love, topped by a crown, signifying loyalty, used often as a love token.

“The significance, we thought, was very profound when you think about what the Scottish Home is,” Noble said.

Open house announced for Nov. 15

Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care, 2800 Desplaines Ave. in North Riverside, will host an open house to launch new brand on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 4 to 7 p.m.

The free event, which is open to the public, will feature refreshments, tours and more information about the services the nonprofit offers.