Evergreen’s Missy Calhoun named an Agemark “Hero”

Missy Calhoun was named an Agemark “Hero” for 2020. The award was presented in a virtual awards banquet held on February 18. Calhoun was just one of six Agemark employees given the honor. Agemark employs nearly 800 individuals in 25 communities across 5 states.

Calhoun, the Dining Services Manager at Evergreen in Dickinson, ND, has served in her role since 2012. As Dining Services Manager, she shares love with Evergreen residents through the delicious food she makes from scratch.

Calhoun says, “I am so thankful to work for a company that gives out awards for people who love their jobs,” Calhoun said. “I really truly love our residents. I feel like I have tons of grandpas and grandmas! I think people see the compassion that I have for them and it’s an honor to be recognized for that. Agemark is an amazing company to work. They truly care and make it all about residents and our people.”

Agemark CEO Marty Hug says people like Calhoun are the reason for Agemark’s continued success. “We know that the most valuable part of our company is not our assets, it’s our people. We are confident that our employees are truly the best in the industry. Each day, they are tasked with the most important thing we can do in our position as a provider of senior living – change the lives of our residents for the better. We’re proud that Missy is part of our team!”

Beatrice’s Jill Strouf named Agemark’s Director of the Year for 2020

Jill Strouf, Executive Director at The Kensington in Beatrice, Nebraska, was named Agemark Senior Living’s Director of the Year for 2020. The announcement was made on February 18 during a company-wide virtual awards ceremony. Agemark’s Director of the Year is given a crystal vase, which is filled each month with a bouquet of fresh flowers for the director, staff and residents of the community to enjoy.

Agemark COO Marty Hug says Jill is very deserving of the honor. “Our company has some wonderful directors, so it’s incredibly tough to earn our this award. After considering all that were deserving of the honor, Jill really rose to the top. She embodies our culture every day and is a leader by example. She’s not afraid to get in the trenches with her staff and she very much demonstrates our values of professionalism, integrity, commitment and compassion. We could not be more proud to honor Jill.”

Strouf, who was shocked by the announcement, said winning the award has been one of her goals since beginning with the company six years ago. “It just doesn’t feel real,” said Strouf. “I’m so excited and honored. I’m very blessed to work alongside such an amazing team. Everyone pitches in and works so hard to care for our wonderful residents.”

In addition to serving as the community’s Executive Director, Jill also serves in a marketing role, working closely with residents and families who are considering a move to The Kensington for themselves or their loved ones. A nurse by trade, she’s even spent the last few months filling in for the Director of Nursing, who is on maternity leave. “Right now, I’m jumping around doing lots of jobs. But that’s what’s needed of me right now and I’m happy to do it. We have a team of people who are always willing to lend a hand wherever it’s needed.”

Additionally, Jill mentioned being grateful for the support of the Kensington staff, residents and families, especially amid the challenges COVID-19 has presented in the last year.

Jill’s honor was given with full support of the entire Agemark team, says Hug, and the company can’t wait to see what she does next. “Agemark is a large extended family that includes our residents, family members and staff. We are so blessed and proud that Jill is a member of our family and we look forward to her continued journey with us.”

How much does senior living cost?

“How much does does it cost?” is usually the first question people ask about assisted living, and it’s an important one, to be sure. But getting a simple answer is, well, not so simple.

Senior assisted living costs depend on several factors:

  • The choices you make regarding services, amenities and type or size of apartment.
  • Health care needs and how they will be met.
  • The type of pricing structure offered by the provider.

That third factor can make it difficult to compare senior living providers. While some charge a flat rate that includes everything, even when health care needs change, most charge a monthly base rate plus extra fees for various services.

Then there are three main ways to assess those extra fees: 1) Unbundling and charging for each individual service rendered, or “a la carte”; 2) assigning a point value for individual services, then grouping the point totals into different price levels, or “levels of care”; or 3) charging for a set list of services, then adding more bundled services as needed for incremental or “tiered” rates.

How do you compare options?

If you’re looking at more than one senior living option – and you should – be sure to ask a lot of questions. Visit several communities and pay attention to how they make you feel. In addition to gathering information about pricing, amenities and service options at different facilities, compare them to what the same level of care or service would cost if it were provided in your current, at-home situation.

A Senior Living Consultant or Director at each Kensington-Evergreen community can help you understand the community’s pricing structure and answer all questions you have.

Who pays?

Assisted living licensure is regulated on the state level, and regulations vary from state to state. The only government subsidy available for assisted living is through the Medicaid Waiver program, which is also determined by each state; the subsidy amount and how it’s administered varies, as well. Many providers choose not to participate in the Medicaid Waiver program, especially if the reimbursement rate from the state does not cover the cost to provide services. For this reason, assisted living is primarily a private pay industry.

However, some of our Kensington-Evergreen residences do accept residents who qualify for a Medicaid Waiver-funded program. To what extent depends on the state, so be sure to ask the Director or Senior Living Consultant.

Are there financial assistance options?

Most folks pay for senior living through a combination of fixed income, savings and home equity, with fixed income typically the smallest piece of the pie. According to the American Seniors Housing Association and the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry, families often help pay for the cost of housing and care for a loved one.

We understand that each and every person has unique financial circumstances. Our Senior Living Consultants are knowledgeable about the resources that may be available to you. The following options could help reduce or pay for some portion of your senior housing and health care costs.

Long-term care insurance helps provide funds for long-term care when other insurance doesn’t provide coverage or isn’t available. Eligibility and premiums are generally based on the age and health of the insured.

Programs that sell or convert life insurance policies, such as Life Care Funding, can be applied to senior living costs.

Savings and investments offer a financial resource that may also generate income in the form of interest, capital gains or dividends.

Personal loans may be used as a line of credit and drawn upon to fund move-in deposits, community fees or monthly fees.

Real estate may also offer a source of funding, whether through the sale of a home or a home equity loan.

Tax deductions: Seniors or their adult children may be eligible to deduct all or part of their assisted living costs as a medical expense on their federal income taxes. Please consult your own personal tax advisor to learn more.

The Veterans Aid and Attendance Program can help defray the cost of assisted living, in-home health care or other non-reimbursed medical care for those who served during wartime – and their surviving spouses and dependents. Eligibility requirements are related to past military service and the level of care required.

Companion living – choosing to share an apartment – enables two people with common interests to enjoy the comforts of friendship while sharing the financial responsibility. Residents who live together receive all the benefits of our services and amenities, with significantly lower housing expenses.

Navigating through unfamiliar territory

Choosing an assisted living community is a brand-new experience for most people. A rainbow of choices is one of the things that makes assisted living great – but overwhelming or confusing at the same time.

We’re committed to helping families find ways to make senior living more affordable and to find the place that best fits their needs. What’s most important is for each one to feel at home, whether that’s in one of our communities or another provider’s. For that reason, our Senior Living Consultants will be happy to guide you through the process of determining whether one of our communities are right for you.

Take advantage of the knowledge and experience we’ve accumulated over many years. We promise to give you straight answers.

Agemark Senior Living Named a “Great Place to Work”

Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE have honored Agemark Senior Living as one of the 2020 Best Workplaces for Aging Services. Agemark was named the 11th best place to work on the Senior Housing, Small/Medium list. The ranking considered feedback representing 189,159 employees working for Great Place to Work-Certified™ organizations in Senior Housing & Care and At-Home Care in the Aging Services industry.

Agemark, the parent company of Kensington-Evergreen communities as well as 19 other senior living communities in five states, has been recognized three years in a row. In 2018, they took the #13 spot in the Senior Housing division. In 2019, Senior Housing was split into Small/Medium and Large companies. Agemark took the #10 spot in the Small/Medium category.

Great Place to Work, a global people analytics and consulting firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included the extent to which employees trust leaders, the respect with which people are treated, the fairness of workplace decisions, and how much camaraderie there is among the team. Rankings are based on employees’ feedback and reward companies who best include all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. 

Marty Hug, COO of Agemark Senior Living says, “Our employees are the heart of our company, to say we value them is an understatement. Each day they focus on changing the lives of our residents, family members, and their co-workers. In return they know their lives change for the better. We have the best people in the industry, we’re very lucky to have them as part of our family!”       

Jackie Hernandez, Agemark employee, says that Agemark communities truly feature a family environment. “When coworkers say it feels like a big family here, I honestly do feel like a huge blended family. Everyone helps each other out no matter how big or small of a job it is. Working here during a pandemic has seriously made me see how big of a heart everyone has. It truly takes people with a big heart to do what we all do here and I see how loved and cared our residents have been during this time. I get to come to a place that I not only love the work I do for a great company that offers great support and encourages you to grow, but I get to do this beside some amazing coworkers, and I get to serve wonderful residents and their beautiful families.”

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes: What’s the Difference?

Many people lump senior housing options into one category, often using the term “nursing home” as a blanket term to cover all types of care available. Although it’s true that senior housing options used to be much more limited, more options have emerged to serve seniors based on their wants and needs. Although the goal of both types of residences is to provide help and care for seniors, it’s important to understand the innate differences between nursing homes (may also be called skilled nursing, rest homes or care homes) and assisted living.

Who They Serve

Typically, nursing homes are typically a better fit for individuals who require medical care due to more complex health ailments. Those ailments could be physical or psychological and have left them unable to care for themselves. Nursing homes typically offer a higher level of careThis could cover anything from assistance bathing, dressing or using the restroom.

In contrast, residents of assisted living are typically much more independent, but may need a little help with some facets of daily life. That help may be with an activity of daily living (ADL) such as bathing or dressing, or it could be as simple as needing more company, socialization opportunities or just a helpful and watchful eye making sure they’re ok. Assisted living residents may be capable of cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, but prefer for someone else to help with those things.

Length and Type of Stay

A move to assisted living usually involves more choice for the resident. They may want to stay at home but just need a bit more help to truly thrive. They’re searching for a place to call home a longer length of time. It’s not unusual for residents of Agemark Senior Livingcommunities to live with us for years!  

Nursing homes are often used to recover or rehabilitate from an injury. It’s even typical for someone go back and forth from AL following short stays in skilled nursing. Nursing homes are also typical in end-of-life situations, if an individual’s ailments or cares are too much for their AL to manage. Assisted living may be able to provide end of life care as well, sometimes with the assistance of a third-party such as a home-health care provider or hospice support.

Medical care

Assisted living is not a hospital, but care can be provided by trained staff members and on-site RN’s or LPN’s who are allowed to pass medications, take vital signs and more. Residents of assisted living typically keep their own doctors and use provided transportation or drive themselves to appointments. In some communities, on-site medical care or physical therapy may be offered.

Nursing homes offer the highest level of care outside of a hospital. Thus, they have more on-site medical care, equipment and staff to take care of all day-to-day health needs or even rehabilitation services.

Both nursing homes and assisted living communities offer safety options including emergency call buttons that can be worn (life alerts) or pull cords to call for quick help.

Look and Feel

Another major difference is the look and feel of the community. Because nursing homes are more like a hospital, they often feel that way. Beds may be similar to what you’d find in a hospital and staff member may wear scrubs, not unlike what you’d see in a medical environment. Individuals are much more likely to have a roommate.

In contrast, assisted living feels more home-like, similar to an upscale apartment complex, often with many different sized common spaces, perhaps an outdoor area and lots of opportunity for socialization between residents. Apartments in assisted living could be shared, but many of them are private. In fact, Kensington-Evergreen communities a variety of different floor plans for potential residents and their family members to consider – from studio options up to two bedrooms. Staff members typically do NOT wear scrubs or hospital attire, instead opting for everyday attire such as a uniform of pants and polo shirts. Residents of assisted living get much more control of their environment – they bring their own items from home such as furniture and decor to make their apartment familiar and home-like. They usually have regular beds – if they want one. We’ve seen some folks who choose to forego a bed entirely, opting instead to sleep in their favorite comfy recliner!

Life Enrichment

A huge perk of senior living is socialization and a sense of community, as far as life enrichment is concerned, there are common threads, but also some marked differences. Residents of a nursing time typically stay in the building; but do leave on occasion, mainly with members of their family. Activities are typically held on-site. It’s not unusual to have children pay a visit to perform songs for residents, experience regularly scheduled movie nights, activities related to crafts or art or holiday celebrations.

Assisted living communities get their fair share of visitors and regularly scheduled activities such as those mentioned above, but they also benefit from outings and activities held outside the community. It’s typical for residents of Agemark Senior Living Communities to take a trip to the local zoo, have lunch at a local café, visit a vineyard for a wine tasting or attend a baseball game. Many assisted living residents benefit from free transportation to run errands or make appointments, but also, many actually keep their own cars on-site, driving themselves when needed if they are able. Life Enrichment is a primary focus of all Agemark communities.

Other offerings: dining, pets and more!

Dining: In assisted living, the dining options are plentiful. Some resident rooms may even feature kitchenettes, which allows residents cook their own meals. They also have spacious dining rooms, with restaurant style service, featuring daily special offerings as well as a choice of regular menu items. And if you don’t like any of the options, many will make something special just for you. In contrast, nursing homes leave meal preparation exclusively to the dining staff, with communal dining or in-room service options.

Pets: Many assisted living communities allow pets, sometimes with limits on the size or type of animal. Skilled nursing typically does not allow pets.

State or Federal Aid: Most assisted living is private pay, although long term care plans and veteran’s benefits are often accepted. Skilled nursing usually accepts Medicare for at least some of a resident’s stay.

When it comes to senior living, there are differences between what is provided depending on which option you choose. Of course, no two communities are exactly alike, so if you’re considering skilled nursing and assisted living options, it’s important to dive in and research any option you’re considering and visit both to truly understand the difference. To learn more about if assisted living is right for you or your loved one, contact Kensington-Evergreen!