After nearly two years of planning and construction, a new Northfield assisted living facility is providing services in a format similar to a home setting.

The Family Residence, a 12-bed memory care facility that opened three weeks ago, offers four private bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, and eight bedrooms with shared bathrooms. The home is locked and fully-staffed and secure 24/7. The home has one staff member per every six residents, plus the leadership team of Kari Elliason, her daughter, Taylor Elliason; and sister, Lisa Quiggle, who are both also nurses.

The facility is in southern Northfield, near the YMCA off Jefferson Road.

“It’s going good,” Kari Elliason said. “It’s been busy. We’re starting to fill up. It’s been very positive feedback with the community.”

The 5,300-square-foot facility is custom-designed for residents with memory issues. Family meals are provided every day. Most residents spend their time in the building’s sun room doing activities and listening to music. Elliason said that fulfills their goal of having residents share their time and remain active. The model The Family Residence adheres to offers traditional assisted living services in a more intimate, smaller-scale setting, meant to feel more like a home.

With the Cottage on Forest and the Cottages East and West, Three Links in Northfield offers something similar to the residential care model. The cottages offer the same home-like care setting, but because they’re part of a larger assisted living campus, they don’t qualify under the residential care model.

When Elliason’s aunt started experiencing dementia, and she couldn’t find a local facility where her loved one could receive care on an intimate scale, she decided to create one herself — with the support of her husband, Dave, and Taylor and Lisa.

The Family Residence received government and private banking support during the building process. The Rice County Board of Commissioners and Northfield Economic Development Authority have approved separate $50,000 project loans. Investors and First National Bank of Northfield have pitched in.

Elliason said the project is “pretty critical,” because of the shortage of memory care beds in the community. Prior to construction, the couple conducted market research showing a lack of memory care housing, a fact that will likely be aggravated by the city’s aging population

“There’s currently a 26-bed shortage (of memory care beds),” she said. “That’s why we feel pretty confident with this project.

“It’s a real struggle for families in this community. So we’re happy to be a new option in a little bit of a different concept than what’s available.”

Co-owners David and Kari Elliason said they want the facility to feel like a traditional home for seniors. They feel 12 bedrooms is the right number to provide quality care.

Kari felt that as a nurse who had worked in the health care industry for more than 25 years, she had a unique perspective in opening the building and could form the new building partially based on her experience.

“We’ve seen how the system works and we wanted to do something that differentiates from what’s out there,” David said.

To the Elliasons, the favorite aspect of their work centers around those who they serve.

“The families that are so grateful, who really struggled trying to find some place, and once they found us, they just were incredibly grateful,” Kari said. “It’s hard to move your family member from their independent home to a facility. That can be a tough transition. And I feel like we’ve helped make that transition a little bit easier for our residents and for our family members.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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