Is the Britthaven Retirement Home a Real Place?

Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ introduces us to Zak, a man with Down syndrome who was abandoned by his family and lives in the Britthaven Retirement Home. While he is friends with the elderly residents and is taken good care of by a volunteer, Eleanor, Zak realizes that he does not belong there. With help from his ex-engineer roommate, Zak manages to escape the facility and sets out on a journey to meet his hero, the Salt Water Redneck. The retirement home, while having many caring workers, also seems to have its fair share of problems, causing one to ponder whether the place actually exists.

Britthaven Was a Real Retirement Home on the Outer Banks

The Britthaven retirement home seen in the film used to be real nursing facility and was situated at 430 Health Center Drive, Nags Head, North Carolina. One of the minds behind the film, Tyler Nilson, grew up in Colington, the island where Britthaven was located. He spent much of his childhood exploring the Outer Banks and incorporated the setting into the movie. This led to many Outer Banks locations, including the Britthaven retirement home, being featured as a part of the narrative. Since Nilson’s schooldays, Britthaven has been replaced by Peak Resources Outer Banks, which provides nursing and rehabilitation care at the same site as its predecessor.

The Britthaven nursing home was opened in the 1980s and remained the exclusive facility providing nursing care to residents of Nags Head. Its name was later changed to Colony Ridge under Principle Healthcare Systems. In 2010 Dare County Commissioner Virginia Tillett reported that the retirement home was not providing adequate facilities for its elderly residents, with a stream of regular complaints being made to her office. In 2011, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners sought to retake ownership of the property following Principle’s failure to adhere to the terms of a deal to keep the facility open.

The town’s Mayor at the time, Bob Oakes, said that the facility suffered from functional obsolescence, with cases of four residents sharing one bathroom. “There’s a need for investment in the facility,” Oakes said in a report. “We had hoped to work with Britthaven to improve the facility while it was still being occupied.” The nursing home was set to close down in 2011, but following a deal between the town and the operator, it was kept in operation.

Image Credit: Peak Resources

In 2015, a deal was reached between Peak Resources-Outer Banks, Principle Healthcare Systems, and the Town of Nags Head. Peak Resources was set to take over the management of Colony Ridge from Principle in a smooth transition, which essentially allowed all employees to keep their jobs. Principle had reportedly lagged behind the renovation promises made by them in the 2011 deal, and Peak Resources, which operated six nursing and rehabilitation centers in North Carolina at the time, was willing to take over.

Read More: Where Was The Peanut Butter Falcon Filmed?