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‘Culture change’ made huge impact at Good Shepherd

When Bruce Glanzer, president/CEO of Good Shepherd Community in Sauk Rapids, turned 50 years old, he started to reflect on the facility he had been running for several years.

“I asked myself, ‘Would I want to come into the nursing facility as it is today and would I like it?” said Glanzer. “And I really had to honestly say, ‘no.’ I had to find out why.”

Glanzer took a hard look at that question.

“I discovered it wasn’t a question of quality of care. It was about quality of life,” said Glanzer, citing the loss of privacy and the loss of choices when a person enters a nursing facility.

It was an eye-opening, career-altering moment for Glanzer.

“Our customers want us to change to meet their needs, not to change them into our routines.” Changing their routines is really what the old style nursing homes were all about. “From getting residents up early for breakfast, to what time to go to bed, get a bath or their hair done, we mandated their schedules. It was a routine process that was established, not to be mean, but to get the job done in terms of staying compliant with the regulatory process and limited funding.”

As these thoughts resonated with Glanzer, he attended a national seminar put on by the Pioneer Network. Suddenly, it all became very clear. “The moment I got out of that seminar I knew what I needed to do,” he said.

It was the beginning of a new approach at Good Shepherd. And that approach was called culture change.

“A facility in Perham had undertaken the culture change process, one of the first in the state,” he said. “We used them as a model. They were very gracious and allowed us to go up there five or six times with an architect, board of directors and our key leadership team.”

One of those visits was more memorable than the others.

“After a two-hour tour in Perham on a cold February day, the chair of the board tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Bruce, take us there.’ At that point, I knew I had the board of directors on my side and ready to move ahead on this.”

For 18 months, staff leadership met to plan, organize and examine every detail.

“We looked at, what does this mean for dining? What does this mean for bathing? What does that mean for scheduling? What does that mean for housekeeping?” said Glanzer. “We completely changed everything we used to do in regards to the method. Not the outcome, but the method. It was all driven by resident-centered care.”

The heart of the change was finding out what the tenants wanted and finding a way to provide that under the state and federal guidelines.

After 20 months of building and renovations, the first addition was opened in 2010. Everything was different. Everything had changed.

“When you walk down the halls at Good Shepherd, you will not hear call lights buzzing. Instead, staff carry wireless pagers. The quietness creates a calm and serene home-like setting.

And privacy is much improved on all levels. The nursing facility now has 154 private rooms, with their own private bathrooms, and only four shared rooms.

“Residents just love their private rooms,” said Glanzer.

The renovation changed the entire nursing home. Removed from the facility were the plain, bland tiles and off-white paint on every wall. Each household in the facility now has its own unique look and décor with different carpets, paint, wallpaper and accessories. “We wanted it to really look like a home. We accomplished what we were trying to do and that is rewarding,” said Glanzer. “Of all the cool things I have done in my career, this is by far the biggest and overall most successful. People don’t like to be in a nursing facility, but if you need to be in one, this is the place you want to be.”

Good Shepherd Community sits on a 30-acre campus in Sauk Rapids. It has a full continuum of care, from patio home living to subsidized and market rate senior apartments (with or without assisted living services), a home health care agency, memory care cottages, and a skilled nursing facility. They also provide the Home Delivered Meals program to seniors in Sauk Rapids and Sartell.

Life enrichment is a big deal across all of Good Shepherd’s entities. Their activity calendars are full of educational, entertaining, spiritual and social programming. A great deal of thought and consideration goes into everything they do. Some of the more memorable apartment special events include a Johnny Carson Show, a reproduction of the HeeHaw show, luaus and hoedowns, talent shows and a wedding fashion show, including dresses from each decade from the 1930s to the present. Musical entertainment is always a highlight as they are blessed with wonderful, talented musical groups.

The campus environment offers the tenants and residents of Good Shepherd a wide variety of amenities, such as a movie theater, a coffee and gift shop, libraries and plenty of space for walking.

Good Shepherd relies heavily on the support of wonderful volunteers in all areas. They have many tenants who live on campus who volunteer, in addition to church groups, youth groups, service learning and college interns. They help with multiple tasks like accompanying residents to medical appointments, assisting with activities, working in the store, friendly visiting, helping to plan and carry out special events and much more! Volunteers are a critical part of the Home Delivered Meals program; it wouldn’t exist without them.

Shepherd of Grace Senior Community, a second location, was opened in Becker in 2007. “Shepherd of Grace is a smaller campus with 69 units of apartments, assisted living and memory care,” said Glanzer. It is attached to Grace Lutheran Church by a community center, which they share. Grace’s pastor serves as the chaplain. The community center is used for special meetings or activities, Sunday school and community groups.

The newest project at Good Shepherd is Shepherd’s Ridge patio homes. They built the infrastructure to put in eight duplexes (16 units). Last summer, they built four units, and the rest will be built as financial means become available, said Glanzer, who added the patio homes have a “really cool design,” with great, functional living space, no steps and a big, heated garage.

If you would like to learn more about Good Shepherd Community and tour any of their facilities, call the Welcome Center at 320-259-3476 or stop by the Good Shepherd Community campus at 1115 4th Avenue North, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379.

If you would like to learn more about the Shepherd of Grace Senior Community, call Carol at 763-262-8000. It is located at 11175 27th Avenue SE, Becker, MN 55308.

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