Category Archives: Life at VPC

Compassion and Joy Without Walls

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Hands

Sorta like getting a sample at the ice cream shop, to learn if you like a flavor before you order two scoops. Wouldn’t it be great if you or a loved-one could do that with assisted living? Now you can, in two of our Minnesota communities.

Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls and Monarch Meadows in North Mankato are piloting an innovative new service providing a low-cost preview of life as a resident. In both communities the service goes under the name “Senior Social Club.”

“We wanted to give folks a taste of what it might be like to live with us,” said Sales and Community Marketing Manager Colleen Marcus from Garnette Gardens.

Click on the two links above for details. Here are some of the common features in the two communities:

  • Transportation two days each week
  • A monthly meal plan with up to 10 meals per month
  • Participation in scheduled events at the community
  • Monthly home check-ins from a senior service professional
  • Seasonal “Wellness Gift Basket” for program participant

“The aging population is at risk for social isolation or loneliness,” says Monarch Meadows Executive Director Rachael Evers. “This is our way to provide an active and engaged lifestyle to those who are a part of our greater community.”

Interested?  Learn more online or on the communities’ Facebook pages or call (507) 644-8500 in Redwood Falls or (507) 344-0059 in North Mankato.

The service is the brainchild of Redwood Falls Executive Director Natalie Seehausen. “We know the decision to move from a long-time home is overwhelming and emotional,” Natalie reflects. “As we heard over and over … ‘I am just not ready.’ These programs will cultivate relationships with other residents that will change the decision from a NEED to move, to a WANT to move.”

Hail to Our Nurses

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GG nurses - Marlys Skoblik, RN, Amber Demuth, LPN, Sandy Lund, LPN Bottom left to right Courtney Rohlik, RN, Lynn Buckley, LPN, and Jenn Panitzke, RN

We recently celebrated Nurses Week for 2019. Marlys Skoblik (upper left corner) is an example of the longevity and dedication of the 25 nurses employed at all Vista Prairie Communities. Marlys has been a nurse for more than 40 years. In the photo, she’s pictured with her nurse colleagues at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, where she has served since 2012.  Together, these six nurses have 146 years of experience in caring for patients in a variety of settings.

Next to Marlys is Licensed Practical Nurse Amber Demuth and LPN Sandy Lund; (bottom left to right) Registered Nurse Courtney Rohlik, LPN Lynn Buckley, who manages Garnette Gardens Memory Care, and Registered Nurse Jenn Panitzke, who is Garnette’s Director of Health Services.

Marlys serves primarily in the 15-unit Memory Care area, where the community’s highest level of care takes place, and in the Care Suites. She describes how they ask the families of Memory Care residents to complete questionnaires to help learn what has been important in their loved ones’ lives. In the nine Care Suites residents can generally converse about their histories, but each has unique physical challenges.

“We assess everybody very individually with the ultimate goal of making sure that we can meet their needs,” Marlys added. “They have lived a long time and during all those years, they had experiences and they had relationships and they had everything that makes a life.  Just holding a hand, being with somebody, shows them they have value.”

She also emphasized the importance of getting to know residents’ families and how grateful they are for the compassionate care provided for their loved ones.

Our Organizational Director of Health Care, Melissa Plachecki, a 25-year nurse herself, summed up the profession well, “To answer the call of nursing is a true vocation. Few careers offer the holistic opportunities that nursing provides. To be a nurse is an honor and a privilege.”

Safe Care For Seniors

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BOD taking the Safe Care for Seniors Pledge

We have joined with LeadingAge Minnesota and other senior care organizations to implement a new initiative called Safe Care for Seniors. It’s our way of reinforcing how we safely serve in the course of caregiving, and it starts with this pledge, which the Vista Prairie Communities Board of Directors took at its most recent meeting. I pledge to do my best every day to increase the safety of the people I serve, and my fellow team members, by:

  1. always treating the people in my care with respect and dignity and  taking steps to get to know  them as a person
  2. speaking up if I see something that may be unsafe or makes me feel uncomfortable.

While the initiative started in Minnesota, the spirit will permeate throughout all eight of our communities, including those located in Iowa and Ohio. A specific action plan accompanies the pledge at every level of our organization, starting with our board. It includes leadership training; the designation of champions at each community; participation by our entire staff in learning and improvement opportunities; partnering in new ways to improve communication, safety and quality; and generally strengthening our safety culture.

When you see a member of our staff wearing a “Safe Care for Seniors” lapel pin, you know they have made a public commitment to do all that we can, however they serve in our organization, to address the priority for safety in our settings.

Want to join us? You will have opportunities to Make the Pledge at a Safe Care for Seniors event in one of our communities. These events will celebrate all we do today and renew our commitment to treating people with respect and dignity, always. They will highlight doing all we can to ensure safe and joy-filled environments.

Character and Grit

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Lawrence and Irene at the Twins - for blog

Irene and Lawrence Cline are a team who epitomize the character and grit of the “greatest generation.” The Clines were in the spotlight at this year’s home opener for the Minnesota Twins.  Lawrence, a World War II Army veteran who turned 100 last September, was invited to be the honorary flag raiser during the National Anthem.  Irene, 93, was by his side as she has been for all their 70 years of marriage.

The front page of the Alexandria Echo Press covered what the flag raising honor meant to Lawrence and Irene, who described their latest adventure together, “I’m a pusher. We’ve never sat around. We are always on the go.”

“You raised that flag faster than any other honoree I’ve seen,” commented a veteran Twins staffer after the ceremony. It was just the latest recognition for superlative service in Lawrence’s long life. During his deployment to Australia in the Army Signal Corp, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his service as an enemy code-breaker.

Our Vista Prairie Community in Alexandria, MN, has been home for Lawrence and Irene for more than three years. Their life at Windmill Ponds caps Lawrence’s post-war work experience at Northern Pacific Railroad, Western Union, Soo Line Railroad and FMC.

 

VPC Appointed Jeff Smith as Vice President of External Relations

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blog 1

Vista Prairie Communities (VPC), a nonprofit provider of assisted living, independent living, memory care, care suites and respite services in Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio, has appointed Jeff Smith as Vice President of External Relations. As a member of the executive team, he will be responsible for reputation management, government relations and fund development for the 20-year-old organization.

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