Jan 20

New Facilities in the State

The decision about where is the best place for yourself or a loved one to live as they age is never an easy one. Assisted Living facilities are one option that should be considered as a viable option. Luckily, in just the last two years alone, the availability and variety of choice in assisted living facilities in Montana, especially in smaller towns and communities across the state, has increased dramatically.

Many of the new senior living centers that have recently opened their doors take a smaller, more intimate approach to senior care. These places have a much smaller number of rooms than the more traditional, large-scale institutions, and focus more on the relationship between staff and residents by trying to create a more closely-knit atmosphere.

Beehive Homes of Hamilton

While Cameron Criddle, owner of the Hamilton branch of Beehive Homes had a background in construction, he decided to get into senior after his grandfather lived in a
larger, institutional-style living facility. He said he saw a need for a residential style assisted living location in town.

There are larger facilities in the area, he said, but nothing on a smaller scale, more intimate atmosphere. “I thought there’s got to be a better way out there. So I decided to try and do it,” he said.

The Hamilton location of Beehive Homes opened in November of 2012. Beehive also has facilities in 15 states with Montana locations in Missoula, Great Falls, Cutbank,
Columbia Falls, Choteau and Conrad.

Beehive Homes of Hamilton has 16 bedrooms, and Criddle said he’s happy to keep it that way. “In a lot of ways, it’s like a big house. There’s a living room, common
areas, a dining room and a kitchen,” Criddle said.

Each of the residences at Beehive have their own bedroom and bathroom. The relatively small size means that Criddle can keep the staff to resident ratio high, and
make sure all members of staff are knowledgeable about each of the residents.

While Beehive doesn’t have any nurses on staff, most of the staff are certified nursing assistants or personal care attendants. “We are very picky and particular about who we select to work here. Many of them have prior experience in the industry,” Criddle said.

While many of the residents at Beehive Homes of Hamilton are from the area, others have come long distances to stay there because they have family in the area.

One woman, who moved there from another senior center in California, had previously lived in Germany, and wanted to be closer to family.

More information about Beehive Homes of Hamilton can be found online at www.beehivehomes.com/hamilton.

Bear Grass Suites in Boulder

Another in the trend of small community, smaller-scale assisted living homes is Bear Grass Suites in Boulder.

Andrea Dolezal, one of the co-owners of the family owned and operated Bear Grass Suites, said it’s important that people have options that can keep them close to home.

Most of the residents currently living there are those that either lived in or around Boulder, or who have family in town and want to be near them. “Family’s important. This is a family-run place, and we want people to keep those family connections,” Dolezal said.

Dolezal’s mother was a physician’s assistant in Boulder for more than two decades, and the family, including Dolezal’s father and two sister’s, had been throwing the
idea around of starting a senior center for several years. Last year, they finally decided to go for it, and Bear Grass opened for business in June 2013.

Staying in Boulder where several residents lived before moving into Bear Grass has other advantages as well. “They can keep doing many of the things they always used to go out and do. We have one woman who always went to the same place every weekend to have coffee. Living here, she still can,” Dolezal said.

Dolezal’s mother, who works as a physician’s assistant in Butte now, is at Bear Grass half of the week, and one of Dolezal’s sisters is a licensed practical nurse at Bear Grass Suites.

Bear Grass has room for eight people to live at a time. Each of the residences has its own bedroom, bathroom and a small kitchenette and living room. Residents are able to have their small refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot in their room. This, Dolezal said, preserves a level of independence for the people who live there.

Heartland Assisted Living in Roberts

Heartland Assisted Living is unlike just about any other senior center around. This is because in addition to being a senior living facility, it is also located on a working farm and ranch in Roberts.

CEO John Dubsky opened Heartland last year, after he felt drawn to creating an assisted living facility after witnessing the situation his grandparents went through at
one of the bigger institutions.

“It drove them to death within months. My grandpa told me before he died that people like him can’t do this. They can’t come off these ranches and go to places like this,” Dubsky said.

The goal with Heartland is to make people more familiar with farm life feel more at home. In addition to featuring eight bedrooms, 24-hour nursing staff, and myriad social and recreational activities, residents can also spend their time collecting eggs and feeding the animals the farm raises, including hogs, horses and chickens. Some residents,Dubsky said, even bring their own animals to come to stay with them.

Like many of the senior centers in smaller communities, many of the residents Heartland has either lived in or have family in the Roberts area. But not all; Dubsky said one man came to live there from Georgia because the idea of the farm life appealed to him so much.

While for the moment Heartland’s working farm structure is one of a kind, Bubsky said they are planning to open similar assisted living centers in other parts of Montana in the future.

More information about Heartland can be found online at www.heartlandassistedliving.com.

Timber Creek Village in Columbia Falls and Havre

Timber Creek Village, a senior living center company that also has branches in Illinois, opened up a location in Columbia Falls in February of 2012 and has another in
Havre that will open in late spring of 2014.

The residences at Timber Creek have a bedroom with walk-in closet, a kitchen and living room area, a bathroom with a walk-in shower and a private outdoor patio.

In the rest of the facility there are shared common areas for residents and family, including a theatre room, coffee bar and on-site beauty and barber shop.

All of Timber Creek Village’s nursing staff are either registered or certified. The staff can provide residents with assistance with medication management, mobility assistance, personal hygiene, transportation and other daily tasks.

The Havre location will be very similar to the Columbia Falls facility, said Jenny Britton, a spokesperson for Timber Creek Village. The amenities and services offered will be the same, but the Havre location will have one more apartment building, adding 40 more residences to the center. Residences are a mix of one bedroom, two bedroom and studios.

Britton said the goal of Timber Creek is to maintain the highest level of flexibility and freedom in the lives of residents as they had at home to create a happier and
healthier aging environment.

Britton encourages any senior or family members who are trying to make difficult decisions on where one should live to come into one of the Timber Creek Villages to see things for themselves and have their questions or concerns answered. “The most frequent comment we get is ‘I never thought it would be like this,'” she said.

More information about Timber Creek Villages can be found online at www.timbercreekvillagecommunity.com.


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