Assisted living community offers congregate living, home-like feeling and
homemade food everyday
By Jim Palmer
Valley View Estates is an assisted living community with a home-like feel, nestled on a quiet block on the edge of town in Long Prairie.
Valley View offers 32 rooms -- 22 for assisted living and 10 for memory care. Living accommodations include private, single room studios or one bedroom apartments. Each has a private bathroom and sit-down shower.
A variety of services are available to each resident, depending on their level of care needed. Attendants are trained in all areas of client-specific care, whether it is supervision, partial care, or total care. Special training is also provided for those attendants who work with residents with memory loss.
Complimentary services include weekly light housekeeping and laundry, three home-cooked meals and snacks, daily activities and exercise, in-house lifeline call system, 24-hour awake staff, 24-hour access to on-call RN and transportation to in-town medical or social services appointments.
Valley View includes a large community living room, a community dining room with beverage/snack bar, a sunroom, a whirlpool tub, a beauty shop, and a laundry room.
“We offer congregate living, so socialization is huge,” said Jordan Liesemeyer, administrator at Valley View.
“That socialization includes activities and entertainment for residents. And while the number of activities is fewer than it was pre-COVID, it has always been an important part of living at Valley View. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents in senior living facilities have been limited in what they can and can’t do. And for most of 2020, and a good part of 2021, there were few opportunities to socialize. That may be why the current residents cherish it so much today,” said Liesemeyer.
“Safety was our top priority, but we also had to consider that, for our residents, this is their home,” he said. “We come to work here, but this is their home. They socialize here, they make memories here, they celebrate achievements here, everything. Activities and socialization have come back in phases. For the first phase, we had a little bit of activities, with distance, very structured with lots of cleaning before and after. But when you gave them that little bit, they would talk about it for a long time. When we were able to have socially distanced meals, that was huge. There was structure and lots of spacing, but being able to see each other was big.”
When it comes to activities, there is a clear-cut favorite at Valley View.
“The residents love bingo. I think they wish we did it every day,” said Liesemeyer. “That activity always gets a crowd. And we have been doing more arts and crafts lately with the holidays. There has been a bit of a race between staff and residents to see who could decorate the most and the fastest. I don’t know who is winning at this point.”
Music is also quite popular.
“Music is always huge here,” said Liesemeyer. “Everyone gets together. When a performer comes in and starts to perform, residents’ eyes just light up, sometimes for weeks. So that brings happiness that you can feel in the building. That is a very small investment for us with a really big reward.”
Bingo and music aside, the most popular social activity for the residents actually happens three times a day: mealtime.
“Everyone receives three healthy meals each day,” said Liesemeyer. “We love our cooks. Our cooks love to cook from scratch, and they are always making freshly baked treats. We just had banana bread, and we have fresh baked cookies today.”
Sharing a cookie and some conversation is a common sight at Valley View, and it is something people cherish after going through the challenges of the last 20 months.
“I’m looking forward to the activities coming back to full strength,” said Liesemeyer. “But our focus now and going forward with Valley View is to do everything we can to make this a true home for the residents we serve. These are not hospital rooms. Our residents can have freedoms. It is their retirement, their golden years, and they should enjoy them. They deserve it. We have policies and procedures to make sure they are safe and feel secure, so they don’t have that anxiety. So they can focus on having some cookies and don’t have to worry about the more serious stuff.”
Liesemeyer credits residents and staff for working together through the hardest part of the pandemic.
“This is a community,” he said. “Our residents are great, and our staff is committed to their care. You can have really smart people working for you who know how to do the work, but it really takes someone who cares, and we have that here.”
He added that those who truly care always stand out above the rest.
“It always makes me feel like I made the right decision about hiring when a staff member changes from saying that they are “taking care of the residents” to “taking care of my residents,” he said. “The staff we have are really solid. They really appreciate the residents and the needs of the residents. And the residents love our staff, too.”
One of the best parts of working in a senior living community like Valley View Estates, said Liesemeyer, is getting to know the residents.
“Everyone has their own life story, and there are so many amazing stories here,” he said.
Two of those residents, Ellen Gilder and Micheele Green, talked about their experiences and why they chose Valley View.
Ellen lived and farmed with her husband (a WWII vet) on a farm 10 miles north of Milaca for most of her life. After her husband died, she moved in with one of her daughters in Long Prairie. A few years ago, she decided it was time for a change. She needed more help at home and was along more than everyone was comfortable with.
“So my daughter and I went home shopping,” Ellen smiled. “We came here, and the welcome we received was so good that I just knew it was the place that I would appreciate.”
And after she moved in, she quickly knew she made the right decision.
“I couldn’t have been treated any better,” she said.
Ellen really enjoys bingo nights, she loves the staff, and is a big fan of the food.
“The food is very good,” she said. “Very good. My favorite is the meatloaf.”
Micheele and her cat, Peach, moved into Valley View Estates in January.
“I wasn’t able to do everything I needed to do living by myself,” Micheele said. “I was living in Alexandria and I was looking for a place that was closer to Clarissa, so I decided to come here. And I’m so glad I chose Valley View. The staff is wonderful here. They all really have heart. When I want my privacy, I’ve got it. If I need something, they help me out and see that I get it. And if I’m not feeling good, they will check on me. It is a great staff here.”
How about the activities?
“And when I want to do some activities, like crafting, bingo and things like that, I can,” she said. “Bingo is every Wednesday and Thursday, and it’s a fun social time for all of us.”
And meal time?
“The food is really good,” she said. “It is nice to not have to worry about making meals. I love their enchiladas. It is all really good. And we have a really good time at mealtime. Lots of laughing.”
For Micheele, it was the perfect new place to call home.
“I’m very glad I came here,” she said. “And Peach likes it, too. She loves the staff and they love her.”
Valley View Estates is located at 1104 4th Avenue NE, Long Prairie, Minnesota. To learn more about their services, visit valleyviewassistedliving.com. To set up a tour or to ask more questions, call 320-732-3516 or email VVLongPrairie@outlook.com.
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