Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Ecumen’s Lakeview Commons Wins Awards

Above are just a few of the team members at Ecumen’s Lakeview Commons who have helped Lakeview Commons be recognized by the readers of the Maplewood/Ramsey County Review newspaper as the Maplewood community’s top assisted living and senior retirement community for 2007. This is the third year in a row that the team at Lakeview Commons has received this honor. Congratulations!

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

A July 4th Wish for the Minneapolis Veterans Home

July 4th , of course, celebrates our country’s independence. Many of the people we and our colleagues serve around the country in assisted living and nursing homes are the ones who put their lives on the line to ensure that we have that independence.Last week I sat in on testimony given by family members and others before Governor Pawlenty’s Veterans Home commission, which has been charged to come up with recommendations on how to fix what has been a debacle at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. (Ecumen leader Kathryn Roberts is a member of the commission.)I was saddened and horrified to hear one vet’s daughter share of how her father who lives there doesn’t always get water when he needs it. I heard a husband share how he’d like to leave his wife at a nursing home he loves, but soon he won’t be able to afford her care there and so he has her on a waiting list for the Vets Home. (How incredibly stressful it must be to hear about the problems at the Vets Home when you are considering putting the person you love the most there.) Then there was the story of the veteran who is depressed living in a crummy nursing home and wants to be put in the Mpls. Vets Home, so he can be with other vets. He has made his cousin promise him that he will make that wish come true.I also heard testimony from members of AFSCME, one of the unions at the Vets Home. Caregivers at the Vets Home have taken some lumps. They could have used this forum to tee off on the administration. Those from AFSCME who testified that day were long-time caregivers at the Vets Home. And they were absolutely excellent. What was so clear and so genuine in their voices is how much they care about the people at the Vets Home and that they want solutions. In fact, everyone who testified there that day underscored that the status quo won’t cut it.My hope is that the work of this task force doesn’t simply become a set of recommendations that then gathers dust on a shelf somewhere. What a complete waste and charade that would be. But that’s exactly what happened to the last task force that met about 20 years ago on problems at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. We’re all well aware of finely tuned, innovative long-term care settings where the people who are served and the people who provide that care find their experience extremely rewarding and nourishing. My hope this July 4th is that there are recommendations that help innovation replace dysfunction at the Veterans Home and that Governor Pawlenty then sees that those recommendations move from ink on paper to reality.In Minnesota, we’ve already been down the road called status quo,' … it doesn’t work.Eric Schubert, director of communications

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Ecumen’s Kathryn Roberts Named to AAHSA Board

Ecumen CEO Kathryn RobertsEcumen CEO Kathryn Roberts has been named to the board of directors of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA). AAHSA is a national trade association that represents nearly 6,000 non-profit senior housing and services organizations.Kathryn will serve a three-year term on the board of directors. AAHSA’s board of directors is responsible for the governance of the association, providing strategic direction, fiduciary oversight and policy development.'I am extremely honored to be joining the AAHSA board of directors and I look forward to joining others from across the United States in the work of transformation and helping shape our country’s and profession’s future,' said Kathryn.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

AgeWell - Great Name, Cool Approach

Several of us went to a great event last evening at the Minnesota History Center sponsored by AgeWell. They are doing a number of interesting things with their focus being on 'the best retirement home is your own.' They provide home care, but they really look at it as 'life care management.' When they meet with a client they develop a 'lifecare plan' in conjunction with the customer. The plan gathers the customers' insights and feedback in a number of areas, including:Fun/passionSocialHealthCognitiveSpiritualFinancialEnvironmental (home/surroundings)What this does is look at aging and serving a customer in a much more holistic way, not simply medically. It is all about the person. This type of holistic approach is a great opportunity for senior housing and long-term care professionals looking to make their expertise mobile. Like Detroit Lakes' Emmanuel Community is doing.

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Changing Aging

Yvonne Severson, director of nursing at Clarkfield Care Center, sent this video clip. She said in her email, 'Maybe if you start skating now, you’ll be this good when you get to be 81.' RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT. Not a Chance. Check out the video . This person shows that age is simply a number.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Senior Housing Development Story

The Minneapolis Star Tribune highlighted Ecumen’s new senior housing development partnership yesterday. Below is the text from the Inside Track' column:Senior BoomA trio of Minnesota construction heavyweights are joining forces to create a senior housing development team that will take advantage of increasing demand for senior housing facilities built in conjunction with churches and faith-based communities.The Twin Cities-based partnership includes Ecumen, Minnesota’s largest nonprofit senior housing company; Adolfson & Peterson Construction, and Pope Associates.Ecumen will provide management services, Adolfson will be the general contractor and Pope will provide architectural services to the team, which will be known as Team Ecumen as it pursues projects nationwide.This partnership began as an interal partnership for our own projects, but we see how it can be beneficial to others who want to develop senior housing, e.g combined expertise, efficiencies, etc. There have to be a lot of other ways that senior housing, aging services and other organizations can partner to better serve customers.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Aging Series by USA Today and ABC News

Interesting series by ABC News and USA Today begins today. It’s called 'Role Reversal.' Looks at children taking care of their older parents. This 'sandwich generation' presents a great opportunity for senior housing and aging services organizations to serve a much younger clientele and more broadly share its expertise.The first story today looks at how senior care is moving away from nursing homes. Looking at our Age Wave Study, it’s clear that baby boomers want to continue this direction. Another interesting story is about technology, which we are users of here.Also note in this article that people want more options to care for their parents at home. Minnesota has worked hard to get such an option. It’s called Consumer Directed Community Options. Too bad no one knows about it. This needs to change. There are about 11,000 seniors in Minnesota eligible for this program; only about 100 are in the program. You would think that with the power of the internet, we could completely change that and create a culture where we help people meet their desire to live at home and save the state money.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

One of the Good Guys

Media often get a bad name. Dennis Douda (pictured at left) at WCCO-TV is one of the good guys. (For our readers outside of the Midwest, WCCO-TV is the Twin Cities CBS affiliate).

He recently did a story on technology being used at Ecumen. He enjoyed the people he met at Lakeview Commons in Maplewood as part of the story. He is producing a short film called Willie 1.17 that is going to be entered at Sundance and other film festivals. Last week 15 people who live at Lakeview Commons got to participate in the filming of the movie’s closing scene. That was pretty cool, but then according to Wendy Traffie, the leader at Lakeview Commons, there were a couple of other surprises.

Bud Kraehling, (former WCCO-TV weatherman) who is one of Minnesota’s most beloved TV personalities played the main character in the movie. Don Shelby, current WCCO-TV anchor and drivetime radio host on WCCO-AM did the make up and and Dennis and Jeanette Trompeter acted in the film.

Dennis is going to hold a special screening of the movie at Lakeview Commons.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Congratulations to CaringBridge

Technology is such a tremendous opportunity for the senior housing and aging services professionals in helping people connect and learn from each other. The applications are endless -- and they don’t have to be expensive. It’s a great area for our profession to be entrepreneurial. Our Age Wave Study, shows that baby boomers (the next generation of seniors) are all about technology to stay connected. On that note, we want to send our congratulations to CaringBridge, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Millions of people have stayed connected with loved ones experiencing injury and illness.CaringBridge began with one person. Today 250,000 people connect on it every day. It’s a product that is all about the power of human connections, people and personal stories. Elements that are in our profession every day and that we can build upon to make even better and stronger. It’s all apart of 'It' that others have been talking about in Debbie Manthey’s post below.

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The It Factor

Debbie Manthey, Director of Operations, Housing Debbie Manthey, Director of Operations, Housing

What is it?
Who has it?Why do they have it? How do you get it?


We are on a mission to assure 'it' is present in each Ecumen Community.
“It” has been described in a variety of ways which all revolve around a feeling. Warmth, engagement, energy, emotion, impression. “It” is how you feel when you are at home or with friends and feel good. “It” has a story to tell. “It” revolves around values and choice. “It” is resident centered and resident driven. “It” is about how you feel about living in your home where you are in charge of your life.

At one of our leadership meetings, Mick Finn, chief of operations, talked about a recent visit to one of Ecumen’s communities, Mick walked in and found residents and staff having breakfast together €“ talking, laughing, totally enjoying each other.

Several other dining tables had not been cleared of dishes. There was no sense of hard schedules or time restraints. It was human beings enjoying each other and taking time with each other. One of the residents asked Mick, “Would you like to sit down and havesome toast and coffee”? Mick felt “it”. “It” is all about culture change. We must transform the way we deliver support and services to our seniors if we want to get “it”.