Category Archives: Better With Food

Bon appétit

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Jennie Marcus wants to take your order at Vista Prairie at Copperleaf in Willmar, MN. Would you prefer the Daily Chef’s Selection or are you in the mood for a hot panini sandwich today? If so, you should try the Chicken Caprese with mozzarella cheese, tomato and a balsamic glaze, served on artisan bread. Copperleaf’s North Winds Fine Dining menu will soon feature these choices and many more, in addition to yummy breakfasts, served each morning until 10 a.m.

It’s all about choice and flexibility. “We all look forward to our next meal,” says Jennie, Copperleaf’s Executive Director. “For residents to have choice on when and what they want to eat, and who they want to eat with, is going to make a huge difference in our services. They can also invite their families to come and get something from the restaurant.”

The dining experience will change for Copperleaf’s 24 memory care suites as well. The former dining room in that section has been converted to new activity space. The new dining area will have facilities to enable residents to eat when they want to. “It will allow the staff to do more one-on-one care with them,” Jennie explains.

Jennie says the residents have enjoyed watching the progress so far with the $1.5 million renovation in the kitchen, and throughout Copperleaf’s public spaces. “One of our huge landmarks was moving the grand piano upstairs,” she recounts. “That was an emotional day. Now that it’s on the mezzanine level it sounds so beautiful. I think it was always meant to be up there; the acoustics are so nice.”

When spring comes, Copperleaf still plans to create an outdoor dining area with views of the marsh behind the building and a pergola for shade. “We’ll be coming to residents and members of the community for financial support to go beyond our renovation budget,” Jennie said. The community offers 55 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and seven care suites in addition to memory care. Compassion, smiles and fine dining all around.

Advent

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Brandon and Franklin with Finnish Painting

Brandon and Franklin with Finnish Painting are touching up a hallway before new carpeting is installed for Vista Prairie at Fieldcrest in Sheldon, IA. As Christmas draws near, anticipation also is building for Fieldcrest residents as a renovation project in excess of $1.5 million reaches the halfway point.

“They get to watch the whole thing happen right before their eyes,” says Senior Executive Director Cal Diekmann. “They’re very excited about the end product but for now, they’re so excited just watching it.”

Now that it’s recarpeted, new furniture soon will be installed in the front living room, along with new curtains and a dramatic new fireplace, still to come.

Anticipating the end product is what has Cal most excited, “Our residents will have a brand-new dining experience,” he says. Meal offerings will feature more menu choices thanks to a completely refitted kitchen. Mealtimes will be staggered to fit better with residents’ plans, rather than having to observe a set meal schedule.

Residents will watch food being prepared from an in-dining room serving area. “It will be more of a home-cooked feeling, and I’m very excited about that,” Cal says.

Even an investment of more than $1.5 million has its limits. Replacement chairs for the activities room did not make the final cut, so Fieldcrest has launched a fundraiser for 50 chairs. Some residents have already stepped up to buy a chair, and so have some of Fieldcrest’s best vendors. If you would like to sponsor a chair, please designate your Fieldcrest gift online

While Fieldcrest’s staff also anticipate their new surroundings, renovations can be tough on caregivers too. “Absolutely,” Cal says. “They have to put up with last minute decisions. They do it with a smile, and they ask me if I need help. Just amazing.”

Fieldcrest offers 69 one- and two-bedroom assisted living apartments for seniors who need access to personal care and supportive services. We also offer 12 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Smiles for Copperleaf

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These four people are a sample of the smiles that will soon be seen throughout Vista Prairie at Copperleaf in Willmar, MN. A $1.4 million renovation is about to start, which will mean major innovations in dining, resident communication, and all-around enjoyment.

The four people pictured in Copperleaf’s movie room (yes there are four) are the key planners, from left: Ryan Erickson from Larson Building, Amy Bursey from Monogram Design Consultants (on the floor with carpet samples), Copperleaf Executive Director Jennie Marcus, and participating virtually on the video screen, Anna Petersmeyer, Vista Prairie’s Chief Operating Officer.

Following the recent green light from Vista Prairie’s Board of Directors, Jennie is ready to set the plans in motion with many local building suppliers in the mix. “Our residents will benefit from a transformed dining experience,” Jennie says, “thanks to a new kitchen and our renovated dining room, complete with more convenient restroom facilities.”

While Copperleaf has always been known for quality care, an innovative nurse-call system will take it up a notch. “The wearable units will put residents in two-way contact with our clinical staff,” Jennie noted. “These devices will help make sure we’re always there for the support residents need.” The units also will monitor vital signs to aid physicians and other healthcare professionals.

“We also want to create a beautiful outdoor dining area with views of the marsh behind our building and a pergola for shade,” Jennie said. “We’ll be coming to residents and members of the community for financial support to go beyond our renovation budget.”

Beyond the high-tech and convenience features, Copperleaf will get an extreme paint-up/fix up with new floor and wall treatments throughout the public spaces and updates in the community’s 24 memory care suites. The community offers 55 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and seven care suites in addition to memory care. Compassion and smiles all around.

Transitions

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Carole and Jerry have been residents of Vista Prairie at Brentwood in Rice Lake, Wisconsin for 10 weeks. It’s the biggest transition in their life together, except perhaps when they got married 20 years ago, at the age of 68. They blended their families from previous marriages. She has four children, and he has three.

Their decision to move to Brentwood came when Jerry was in the hospital in Eau Claire recovering from an unexplained issue with his legs, which resulted in exchanging his riding lawnmower for a walker. It all started when he was mowing his two-acre lawn at their house in Campia, northeast of Rice Lake.

“I came to a stop, and I couldn’t get off the lawnmower,” Jerry recalls. “So I fell, and my neighbor and my son got me up and walked me into the house.”

That incident was enough for Carole and Jerry to seek a more secure place to live, at the urging of Jerry’s daughter, JoEllen, who lives in the Twin Cities. She and her siblings grew up on Jerry’s dairy and beef-cattle farm where he had long supported their 4-H and FFA activities. Now it was JoEllen’s turn to guide their next steps.

“I like this place,” Jerry reflects. “I love the meals and I love the care they give you. They come in every morning and take my temperature and weigh me.”

The couple brought their car with them to Brentwood, where they rent a garage. Carole will do the driving when the weather gets a little better. Her family lives in Tennessee and California. She’s looking forward to a reunion with them this spring.

Like most new residents, Carole and Jerry are going through all the stages that William Bridges described in his classic book, Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes. They have experienced an ending for their time living together in Campia. They are now in what Bridges calls, “the Neutral Zone,” where they are adapting to their new surroundings and patterns. And they’ve already embraced their “New Beginning” at Brentwood, with the help of a loving staff, their new friends, and great food.

The Brentwood community offers 28 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value their independence but want options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 19 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Rita is moving to a new menu

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Rita Gronski may be most comfortable in her chef’s coat, but with praise and support from many residents like Dwight, she’s now serving from a new menu – the role of Executive Director for Vista Prairie at Brentwood in Rice Lake, WI. The promotion was official on September 27.

Rita not only was responsible for providing delicious meals and snacks at Brentwood for 11 years, but she’s also managed one of the community’s most complex departments ensuring that residents have the right nutrition for their specific needs. Her 30 years of experience in senior care have taught her that it’s all about choice.

“The residents here have a choice in their menu,” Rita explains. “When they come here, they have their voice and their choice in food, where they may have given up their choice about things like driving. If they have a recipe that they’ve made from when they were a kid, we will bring it into to the kitchen and we will make it.”

Dwight sees this personal touch as a compelling advantage about Brentwood, especially for his sweet tooth, “I relate to the variety of food. For instance, we have a lot of homemade desserts here.”

Rita will continue to spend time with new residents when they move in, “I want to know them. This is my time to visit with them and know their likes and dislikes.”

Rita’s leadership skills and devotion to the customer come in part from her ownership of an area family restaurant prior to becoming Brentwood’s culinary manager. A dietary management certification from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls provided her academic training.  Her work-ethic goes back to growing up on a diversified livestock and dairy farm.

“We are delighted to welcome Rita to her new position,” said VPC Chief Operating Officer Anna Petersmeyer. “Rita has become a trusted resource for the residents, in many ways beyond great food.”

The Brentwood community offers 28 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value their independence but want options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 19 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.