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Helping people age in place… at home

One of the most difficult things about aging for some people is leaving the home they love.

Prairie River Home Care realizes how hard that time is for seniors and is assisting them as much as possible to remain where they are.

Prairie River Home Care has been helping people age in place since 1996. They currently serve 2,600 clients in 60 counties in Minnesota. Contributed photo

“Our mission is to assist people to age in place,” said Bobbie Crocker, the custom relations manager of Prairie River Home Care, of Granite Falls and Hutchinson. “We want to help them stay in their own, private home, senior apartment or assisted living facility, safely and as long as possible.”

And if an individual requires additional care in order to remain in their home, it can become stressful for a spouse or a caregiver.

“Oftentimes, the caregiver or spouse benefit from home care as much as the individual receiving the care,” Crocker noted. “We want to do whatever we can to make it easier for all involved.”

Prairie River Inc. began in 1989 and provided personal care attendant services to disabled individuals. Prairie River Home Care evolved from that company in 1996 as a Medicare-certified home care agency that offered a broad range of services to individuals of all ages, from newborns to seniors.

On Nov. 1, 1998, Ken and Judy Figge acquired Prairie River Home Care and between them have over 50 years of experience in home care. Prairie River Home Care is not a franchise, as many home care agencies are today. They are a family-owned and managed home care agency. While the Figges remain very active in the operation of Prairie River Home Care, their children, Lori Seeman, RN, and Austin Figge, RN, oversee the daily operations. Lori is the chief executive officer and Austin is the vice president of business systems. They are joined by Cathy Nielson, RN, vice president/compliance officer; Ashley Maiers, RN, director of operations; and Jeff Meyer, MPT, OCS, vice president of therapy.

Prairie River Home Care recently moved its location from Marshall to Granite Falls to be more centrally located within the communities they serve. The Granite Falls location also serves Marshall, Slayton, Tracy, Redwood Falls, Worthington, Pipestone, Lake Benton, Montevideo, Windom and their surrounding communities. The Granite Falls office is overseen by Jodi Busch, general manager, and Andrea Anderson, RN, clinical nursing supervisor.

The corporate office of Prairie River Home Care is located in Buffalo, Minn. Other branch offices besides Granite Falls are located in Blaine, Fairmont, Hutchinson, Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud/St. Joseph. In all, eight locations serve 60 of the 87 counties in Minnesota, and currently have over 2,600 active clients.

Dianne K. is one of the Prairie River Home Care clients that has benefitted from its services after having physical and occupational therapy following knee-replacement surgery.

“They were so wonderful,” she said. “I came as far as I did because of them. They motivated me and made it seem easy.”

Following her surgery, Dianne was sent home with exercises to strengthen her knee.

“I wasn’t functioning at all,” she said.

She then worked with physical and occupational therapists from Prairie River Home Care, adopted their exercise plan and surprised her physician during her post-operative checkup a month later.

Prairie River Home Care provides a variety of services, all designed to help folks age in place in their own home. Contributed photo

“My doctor told me he was surprised at my range of motion and told me that most people aren’t at the point I was,” she said. “It was because the therapists motivated me and made it seem easy. They showed me how. They have a way of pushing you, but you want them to.”

Now, Dianne is no longer confined to her home and is able to get out and visit friends and do other things she enjoys.

Recuperating from an illness or injury previously meant extended stays in hospitals, nursing homes or rehabilitation centers for individuals. With Prairie River Home Care, a client can recuperate in the comfort of their own home with high quality health care provided by a skilled health care professional, whether it’s temporary or for an extended period.

Prairie River Home

Care Services:

· Skilled nursing: This includes intermittent visits and private duty nursing, infusion and enteral therapy, education and management of a specific disease to reduce hospital readmissions, medication management, wound care, pediatric care, pain management, palliative care, ventilator-dependent care.

· Therapies (physical, speech and occupational): This includes gait and strength training, home safety evaluation, adaptive equipment training, balance improvement, speech and language evaluations.

· Home Health Aide: This includes intermittent visits and extended hours, personal care, live-in and sleepover, medication reminders.

· Personal Assistance/Homemaker/Companion: This includes housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, companionship and socialization.

· Clinically developed programs to improve the quality of life for those living with heart failure, lung disease, COPD, diabetes, and many more.

Prairie River Home Care also realizes the value of a client’s comfort level with a particular home health aide. They carefully plan in order to match the right person for each client. Contributed photo

Prairie River Home Care realizes the importance of qualified aides and ensures that the all have appropriate experience and skills. Registered nurse case managers also make periodic supervisory visits to homes to monitor a client’s care.

Margaret, 92, lives in an assisted living facility. Recently, she had a fall and was an inpatient at a local transitional care unit. Experiencing pain in her knees, Margaret was recently referred to Prairie River Home Care for physical therapy to help her increase her balance and strength while reducing her risk of falls.

Margaret had two goals in mind: to walk to the dining room by herself and to be able to go out with family and friends for her favorite Bloody Mary.

Prior to working with a Prairie River Home Care physical therapist, Margaret needed assistance getting out of her chair and also to walk. After eight weeks of physical therapy that included stretching and strengthening, she achieved both of her goals.

Prairie River Home Care health aides are required to work with supervision from a registered nurse or therapist, under the direction of a client’s physician. Each caregiver and health professional is recruited, screened, tested, and trained by Prairie River Home Care to ensure that they meet the company’s personal and professional standards and, most importantly, meet the client’s approval.

Tasks performed by Prairie River Home Care health aides include:

· Personal care such as bathing, grooming, oral hygiene, shaving, hair/skin/nail care, and dressing.

· Walking, transfers and bowel/bladder support.

· Meal planning, as well as preparation and support with eating.

· Foot care.

· Assistance with medication.

· Assistance with home exercise programs, including range of motion.

Prairie River Home Care also realizes the value of a client’s comfort level with a particular home health aide. They carefully plan in order to match the right person for each client.

“Prairie River Home Care is also a Medicare-certified home care agency,” said Crocker. “If a client qualifies and certain criteria are met, services may be paid by Medicare.”

Medicare requires the person to be “homebound,” meaning they require assistance to leave his/her home. This includes the use of a wheelchair or walker, needing special transportation, or getting help from another person.

A client may qualify for home health if they have had any of the following:

· Medication changes.

· New diagnosis.

· Two or more falls in the past year.

· A wound that is not healing properly.

· Decrease in function in activities of daily living.

· Multiple or recent hospitalizations.

· Decreased range of motion.

· Frequent emergency room visits or clinic appointments.

Please join the staff at Prairie Home Health Care at their Holiday Open House from 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 18. There will be holiday treats, opportunities to speak with staff members, and drawings for prizes from area businesses.

Prairie River Home Care is located at 761 Prentice Street in Granite Falls. For more information and an initial consult/RN assessment at no charge, call 1-888-525-7742 or 507-532-2264, or visit

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