After a short-lived, year-long retirement, Faribault couple Del and Julie Spronk couldn’t resist getting back into private assisted living. After having previously owned and operated assisted living communities for the past 30 years, the Spronks are returning the industry with a new home in Le Center: Carriage House Senior Living.
“While retirement was peaceful and stress free, I struggled to find purpose,” said Julie Spronk. “I missed the combined passion and pride that my work brought … Then, several weeks ago, our banker called my husband stating he had a property in Le Center that we just ‘had to see.’ We took the bait, drove over and made an offer the same afternoon. The rest is history.”
The property, located on 175 E is in the midst of being renovated to include an enclosed courtyard, beauty shop, a common room with a wall-to-wall fireplace a dining room and a new cement patio. The building has 22 bedrooms with private bathrooms and each room will include a call light system, cable TV, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Several will have kitchenettes and one will be attached to a larger couples’ suite.
Renovating the property is granting Julie the chance to not just apply her background in nursing and business management, but also her skills as a commercial arts major. In the two most recent homes owned by the Spronks, Medford Senior Care and Lewiston Assisted Living, Julie decorated the layouts of the buildings to resemble villages, complete with rooms dressed up as barbershops, diners, a home theatre advertising older films like “Casablanca,” and antique furniture.
“Residents have really enjoyed the nostalgia, and I’ve really enjoyed working on it,” said Julie Spronks. “[The environment] evokes comfort and warm memories from the past. I’ve had residents who come out and say ‘Doesn’t this remind you of grandma’s house?’”
Julie explained that Carriage House won’t be able to get the full village treatment because they won’t be building the facility from the ground-up, but she still plans on creating that same nostalgic feeling with Victorian era furnishings like old cook stoves and treadle sewing machines.
Another quality that makes the future Carriage House unique is that the owners will be on-site throughout the week.
“Most assisted living communities in the area are managed by management companies, but Julie and I will be here during business hours,” said Del Spronks.
The community will also provide for the changing health needs of residents.
“Our assisted living communities are unique in that we provide ‘progressive’ care,” said Julie Spronks. “That is to say, as resident’s needs change and they require a higher level of care, rather than discharge them to a nursing home, we reassess them and rewrite their care plan accordingly … Historically, we have cared for residents who required medication management, diabetic care, injections, incontinent issues, wound care, Foley Catheters, Hoyer lifts, feeding tubes and the like. While some residents require only minimal assistance, others may need a higher level. We will contract with Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, occupational therapy and end of life care through Hospice.”
Julie Spronks also clarified that there were exceptions. The community will not be able to care for residents who exhibit behaviors like unmanageable wandering and aggression.
The Spronks plan on having around one staff member per six residents at all times and are still looking to fill a number of roles including a Director of Nursing, caregivers, a Food Service Manager, Activity Director and Housing Manager.