With its old world name and Bavarian charms, the new Engel Haus looks right at home in the strong German heritage community of Albertville, Minnesota. But along with the afternoon kaffee/kuchen klatsch in the dining hall, this thoughtfully designed facility is applying some of the latest in technology and understanding to support healthful aging.
The two-story, 63-unit Engel Haus opened in October 2014 in Albertville, Minnesota. The facility is owned and operated by Guardian Angels of Elk River, the faith-based nonprofit providing a variety of senior housing options in the Elk River area.
Albertville’s first continuum care facility, Engel Haus (German for “Angel House”) offers 30 catered living residence units, 16 assisted living and 17 memory care units, all supported by resources aimed at allowing each resident to age in place.
Kraus-Anderson Realty coordinated the development process with the city of Albertville. The process included a subdivision of the property, a completed Planned Unit Development Agreement, a TIF agreement and tax exempt municipal bond financing. In addition to bringing needed senior housing, the facility is growing jobs in the St. Cloud region. Engel Haus will employ up to 65 people when fully occupied. The site also accommodates a later phase that could approximately double the square footage of the 15-acre campus.
The facility’s inviting commons areas encourage socializing and activity. Amenities include two dining rooms, a bistro, a lounge/game room known as “the Lions Den,” funded in part by the Albertville Lions Club; multipurpose room; beauty parlor, spa, and library. The Chapel hosts Bible studies, services, devotions and other activities. A weekly Guardian Angels bus provide opportunities for a variety of shopping, sightseeing, dinner, concerts and other activities. The activity coordinator is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, further enhancing the facility’s knowledgeable approach to care.
The lower level memory care wing mirrors the upstairs catered/assisted care wing, but with additional amenities including secured patio.
Engel Haus Administrator Andrea Erickson detailed more about the unique facility and its compassionate, community-building, and cutting-edge approach to senior living.
Q: How does Engel Haus and the facility staff help seniors who are transitioning from having their own private home, to this environment?
ERICKSON: Transitioning can be challenging for some but can also be exciting for others. Our staff listen to the specific needs of their residents and try to be a resource or solution finder for them. For many residents that have lived in their own home, downsizing can be difficult. Our staff tries to provide ideas on how to arrange furniture, find storage, and look for ways to ease their transition. It can sometimes be just connecting them with a friend within the community that recently went through the same transition that can emphasize with the situation and provide support as they transition.
Q: Talk about the importance of socialization as we age.
ERICKSON: As a person ages, we tend to become more introverted. People tend to become more focused on their own health needs and family/friends may move farther from one another. Having a support system of friends is helpful in ensuring that we stay active as we age.
Q: Explain what is meant by Catered Living.
ERICKSON: Catered Living is simply the ability to live independently but having the option to have certain lifestyle amenities included in the rent. Even though a person may be fully independent in most areas of their life, they may wish to have certain services provided for them, such as dining. With Catered Living we provide those types of services in the lifestyle preference of their choice.
Q: All Engel Haus residents have eCall emergency call system pendants/wristbands to alert staff if they need help. How does it work? What has the response been to this feature?
ERICKSON: The residents that we have introduced the system to thus far have appreciated knowing the system is in place and do not even realize it is there after a while. The system just collects motion data and is monitored for patterns or inconsistencies by the clinical staff. The residents do feel a sense a security appreciating that if the sensors did not detect motion in their apartment, someone would be there to check on them within a certain time amount of time. This is also a big selling point for their children. There are many features that can be utilized as well that enhance the benefits of eNeighbor, such as reminders and calling features to notify family members.
Q: Engel Haus is the first senior living facility with this range of care in the Albertville area. Talk a little about how the Memory Care area is set up for resident care and safety.
ERICKSON: The Memory Care area is a controlled access setting. Each apartment has the eNeighbor system, including bed sensors. All programming is done within the Memory Care Community so it is treated like a household where the staff interact with residents and deliver the care as outlined in their individual service plans. Residents share in the activities, participate with meals, and enjoy their own outdoor space. Consistency of those that work in the Memory Care areas is important to our residents as we want to provide them with a familiar face each day.
Q: Dining and nutrition is another very important aspect of healthful aging. How is this addressed at Engel Haus?
ENGEL HAUS: We have a highly skilled culinary team to provide the finest quality experience for our residents and their guests. Kaffee and kuchen (German for coffee and cake) is served every afternoon from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and is open to the community to stop in and enjoy. Although you may not find cake everyday, there will always be something sweet to enjoy with your coffee.
Q: Now that you’ve been in the facility a few months, tell us about the response to the space.
ERICKSON: The response to Engel Haus and the campus by the residents and community at large has been overwhelming. We have had many people offer to volunteer including teens and civic organizations. Our residents enjoy music programs and getting out and about. We try to schedule an equal balance of indoor and outside of the building programming. We are a little over 50% occupied now and so as the population grows, so do the requests for additional programming including card clubs and crafts. We are always looking for folks who are willing to share their talents with us.