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Creating a strong, caring environment for loved ones in assisted living

By Senior Living

Each year in May, we recognize Older Americans Month. This year, the theme is “Communities of Strength” – an especially poignant focus when living through a pandemic and looking to better days ahead.

But no matter what the time period or situation, there are always so many things to consider when the critical decision of moving a loved one to assisted living comes to the forefront.  Families often have to take a hard look at what their relative truly needs to be comfortable versus what they might want that person to have to make themselves feel better about the change.

If you’re starting the process of a life transition with your loved one, it takes courage and a thorough conversation about what’s best for them in a new living space.

  • Allow some personal belongings. Downsizing is an important factor when moving to assisted living. A favorite kitchen table or lounge chair may no longer fit in a new space, so it is left behind. What is important to pack for your relative are photographs of family and friends, photo albums, favorite books, a piece of artwork or a familiar blanket and pillows. Transitioning to new housing for your loved one shouldn’t mean giving up all the comforts of their former home.
  • Not everything should be new. Moving someone into an assisted living facility is a huge adjustment. So much is different for them – the people, the food, the routines. Many times, families look to our spaces that include kitchens as a must-have, especially if their loved one enjoyed cooking. If the resident is taking all meals in the dining area and needs significant support when eating, then the kitchen isn’t a necessity. Experts remind us that change should be kept to a minimum. The best approach is to limit the new things that our residents need to learn and adjust to, and they may not even use or need because of the complete amenities offered.
  • Expect change. It will happen. Your loved one will tell you that they don’t like where they now live. They may even ask to go home. Remember, this is a normal process when dealing with major changes. Keep in mind that to them, home is both a place and a feeling. Ask them to talk to you about what they miss. It may not change anything, but allowing them to express how they feel is incredibly important.
  • Be patient. Three to six months is the average time experts say that it takes for someone to adjust to assisted living. Stick with the reasons for your loved one’s move – improved safety, health, security, and comfort. This will help get through the tough times in those early days and weeks.

No matter what stage of the assisted living process, you can turn to Castle Senior Living for guidance. Talk to us about concerns that you have as we support your loved one through the transition and toward a happy lifestyle. We are proud to provide a comfortable, loving home environment that encourages independence, stability and happiness, and includes a variety of amenities, programs and clinical support for our residents. That’s how we build a community of strength.

Read more here or contact us with any questions.

Dementia 101 – Visits with Von

By Senior Living, Visits with Von

What is dementia?
How can I help my loved one?

Join us on May 12, when we will review excerpts from the dementia presentation, “Take My Hand – Effective Skills for Caregivers” (provided by University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and the Wisconsin Caregiver Academy). We will cover what dementia is as well as review the signs, symptoms, and stages of dementia. Additionally, we will watch a video to better help explain what it feels like to have dementia. Finally, we’ll discuss effective skills for dementia care.

Castle Senior Living incorporates the full version of this training module into our orientation for all of our employees.

Download the Flyer

Date: May 12, 2021

Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Virtual (via Zoom Meet)

RSVP: yvonne@castlewi.com (You will be sent a link)

Yvonne Ward APSW, ACHP-SW

Hospice Executive Director

Yvonne Ward joined the Castle Senior Living family in 2020 and is an integral part of our soon-to-be-launched Hospice program. Yvonne (or Von as we like to call her) has over 11 years of professional experience in hospice, social work, and the healthcare industry. She is an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker – certified in 2017 from the National Association of Social Workers. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Welfare with a Criminal Justice Certificate and her Master’s in Social Work with a Mental Health emphasis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her goal is to help people with their physical, mental, emotional and healthcare needs by providing resources, support, advocacy and education. Von is so passionate about the individuals and families under her care, that she once arranged for a hospice patient to fulfill a last wish to go skydiving and then proceeded to jump out of the plane with him for support!

Castle Senior Living Job Fair on May 27

By Senior Living

Castle Senior Living is excited to host a job fair for anyone interested in joining our team. If you think you may be a good fit, please attend! And if you know of anyone who may be a good fit, please encourage them to attend.

We will be holding on the spot in-person interviews. However, if you feel more comfortable or wish to have a virtual interview, we can arrange for that too. For those coming in person, we will have paper applications available day of or you can get a jumpstart and apply online. If you are wanting a virtual interview, please apply online and communicate that you prefer a virtual interview.

We encourage you to visit our Careers page to learn more about our culture, values and benefits of a career at Castle Senior Living.

Date & Time
Thursday, May 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location
10427 W. Lincoln Ave Suite 1400
West Allis, WI 53227.

Current Openings

  • CNAs (certified nursing assistants)
  • CBRF Caregivers
  • LPNs (licensed practical nurses)
  • Culinary Positions – cooks, aides, etc.
  • Medical Assistants
  • Lead Caregivers
  • House Managers
  • Maintenance Tech

A full listing of open positions can be found here.

To find out more information or if you have any questions please email our recruiter – Meghan Sullivan.

Culinary manager intends to make dining a delicious experience every day

By Senior Living

We recently sat down for a chat with Brian Bercher, the Culinary Manager at The Grand Hills Castle, and soon discovered that he can hold a conversation on pretty much anything – whether it’s creating from-scratch meals for residents, homemade food for rescue dogs or playing in an Irish band.


Brian Bercher is not afraid to admit it up front.

“I don’t cook at home. DoorDash is my private waiter,” he quips.

But in his lifelong role in fine dining as a sous-chef, executive chef, private chef and caterer, Brian is well-trained on cooking from scratch. Since January of this year, he’s been happy to bring his creativity to the daily menu at The Grand Hills Castle.

“I understand the regional meat-potatoes-gravy aspect here,” says Brian. “I want to make as much of our meals as homemade as possible. I’m a firm believer of supporting our community businesses, outsourcing local meat and produce. In fact, next week Monday, we’re preparing roast beef from a local supplier and I will season it myself.”

Brian, who began washing dishes in an authentic Japanese steakhouse when he was 17, has always been interested in food. He earned his culinary degree in between his living and working in restaurants, private kitchens and assisted living communities across the U.S. In addition to his position with The Grand Hills Castle, Brian runs a private chef business.

“Families hire me to cook their weekly meals, so that helps me stay in touch with family cooking and what they want to eat, as opposed to considering a five-star restaurant menu and creating a salmon souffle,” he adds. “In that way, I can reflect what the local wants and needs are much better to the Castle Senior Living community.”

In addition to his talents in the kitchen, Brian is a stage musician and plays bass guitar in the group, Ireland-the-band, which tours much of the East Coast on weekends. He’s involved in Greyhound Rescue and runs a retirement home with two dogs currently in residence. Homemade meals are also on their menu.

“I make my own dog food, usually about forty pounds of food a week. The meals are made with chicken liver, brown rice, sweet potato and carrots. There’s a meat, a grain, and a vegetable. The dogs get a well-balanced meal.”

Brian enjoys the freedom to create what the residents at The Grand Hills Castle want to eat. His goal is to develop a menu that is nutritionally sound and satisfying to the residents and their families.

“We are cooking for them in the same way that we cook for our families,” he says. “Our residents are like family, and we always want to do the best for them.”

Advance Directives – Visits with Von

By Senior Living, Visits with Von

What are Advance Directives?
Who needs them??

Did you know that nearly 70% of Americans do not have Advance Directives in place? Advance Directives refer to the different types of documents that allow for us to spell out what we want (and don’t want!) for our medical care. They allow us to choose someone to be our voice when we are unable to make decisions on our own behalf. Advance care planning benefits those you love because it relieves the emotional burden of someone having to make those decisions for you.

Join us as we review the different types of advance directives, why they are so important, and resources to be able to complete them.

Download the Flyer

Date: April 14, 2021

Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Virtual (via Zoom Meet)

RSVP: yvonne@castlewi.com (You will be sent a link)

Yvonne Ward APSW, ACHP-SW

Hospice Executive Director

Yvonne Ward joined the Castle Senior Living family in 2020 and is an integral part of our soon-to-be-launched Hospice program. Yvonne (or Von as we like to call her) has over 11 years of professional experience in hospice, social work, and the healthcare industry. She is an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker – certified in 2017 from the National Association of Social Workers. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Welfare with a Criminal Justice Certificate and her Master’s in Social Work with a Mental Health emphasis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her goal is to help people with their physical, mental, emotional and healthcare needs by providing resources, support, advocacy and education. Von is so passionate about the individuals and families under her care, that she once arranged for a hospice patient to fulfill a last wish to go skydiving and then proceeded to jump out of the plane with him for support!

Choosing the Right Senior Living Community

By Senior Living

How do you choose the correct senior living community?

Whether you are considering a future move to a life plan community or perhaps a relative or loved one is in need of care right away, it’s important to lay out a plan to choose the best senior living community for your wants, needs and budget.

Here are some first steps:

  • Determine the community – There are many options available – from independent and assisted living on to long-term nursing communities and 24-hour skilled care. The choice depends on whether the person needs minimal help with medications and meals, or suffers from diseases like Alzheimer’s and other illnesses that require more critical care. Be sure to check out the chart below that can provide some insight on the different types of communities.
  • Contemplate the right fit – When you look at the broad picture, consider which communities are licensed by the state. Perhaps you or your loved one will thrive in a small, more homelike setting or would prefer a larger senior living community. Money is also a factor, whether you can afford private pay or require financial assistance.
  • Study the reputation – Once there are locations to consider, research websites and social media platforms. Consider the community’s testimonials and client reviews, and ask friends who’ve been in similar situations for referrals.

Tip: Look for the ways a community shows compassion to residents, supports their needs, and keeps them engaged in activities for a well-rounded senior living experience.

Once a list of needs and wants is completed, continue your preparation with the following:

  • Develop a list of questions – These could involve the cleanliness of the community, the floor plan’s ease of use, safety measures (door locks, lighting, handrails), meal plans, social activities and more. Be sure to ask how the residence stands out from similar communities in your chosen location.
  • Schedule a tour – In-person visits are available at some communities, though some are continuing with virtual tours during the pandemic. Contact the places you’re considering for the latest guidelines.

Bottom line, trust your instincts. If the community feels like the place you or a loved one would consider their new home, then you’re well on your way. Please contact us if you have additional questions or want more information about making the best choices for senior living. We’d love to help and our team is fantastic at supporting people as they go about making this difficult decision – whether the final choice is Castle Senior Living or not.

The Four Primary Senior Residence Options

Community Based
Residential Facility
CBRF
Adult Family Home AFH
(3-4 bed)
Residential Care
Complex RCAC
Nursing Home
Residence Type Serves a variety of needs, and may include dementia and other conditions of aging Serves a variety of needs, and may include dementia and other conditions of aging Independent living. Does NOT serve incompetent, Alzheimer’s, or dementia populations Most require 24-hour care due to physical or mental conditions
Number of
Residents
From 5-257 beds, usually 20+ Up to 4, usually a residential-style home Independent living complex; at least 5 apartments 5 or more
RN on staff Not required Not required Not required Yes
Hours of nursing care Up to 3 hrs/wk Up to 7 hrs/wk N/A 24 hours
General level of care Provides room and board and assistance. Most often admit and provide services to:

  • People of advanced age
  • Dementia
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Mental health
    problems
  • Physical disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Terminally ill/Hospice
Care, treatment or services are above the level of room and board; should not require care above intermediate level of nursing care Provide up to 28 hours of care/week:

  • Supportive services
  • Personal assistance
  • Health services
  • Emergency assistance

Services must be part of tenant’s service agreement

Complete care, room and board
24-hour caregivers Yes Caregivers may live on-site Emergency Assistance if needed Yes
Minimum Age
Requirement
18 years 18 years Adult Adult

Caring for the Caregiver – Visits with Von

By Senior Living, Visits with Von

Are you a caregiver? Feeling blue? Feeling stressed?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Whether you are a professional caregiver or a caregiver for a family member, taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can care for others.

Come join us for an interactive discussion where we will review what caregiver stress and burnout is, signs of caregiver stress and burnout and finally discuss some helpful strategies for dealing with it.

Castle Senior Living is proud to present the first session of “Visits with Von.” This monthly event is hosted by our Hospice Executive Director, Yvonne Ward, and our goal is to provide insights into Hospice and Senior Care to those with questions or loved ones who may be in need.

Download the Flyer

Date: March 10, 2021

Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Virtual (via Zoom Meet)

RSVP: yvonne@castlewi.com (You will be sent a link)

Yvonne Ward APSW, ACHP-SW

Hospice Executive Director

Yvonne Ward joined the Castle Senior Living family in 2020 and is an integral part of our soon-to-be-launched Hospice program. Yvonne (or Von as we like to call her) has over 11 years of professional experience in hospice, social work, and the healthcare industry. She is an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker – certified in 2017 from the National Association of Social Workers. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Welfare with a Criminal Justice Certificate and her Master’s in Social Work with a Mental Health emphasis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her goal is to help people with their physical, mental, emotional and healthcare needs by providing resources, support, advocacy and education. Von is so passionate about the individuals and families under her care, that she once arranged for a hospice patient to fulfill a last wish to go skydiving and then proceeded to jump out of the plane with him for support!

Meet the Resident – Bonnie Sommer

By Senior Living

We are pleased to welcome Bonnie Sommer, who joined the Castle Senior Living Family as a resident of Victorian Castle.

Bonnie says she’s “an open book” and can carry on a conversation with just about anyone. Here’s what we learned about her during a recent visit.

 

There were several big “firsts” for Bonnie Sommer in 2020. She turned 80-years-old in May and arrived at Victorian Castle around Christmas.

“It was such a fast move from where I was to here,” Bonnie recalls. “I was not happy at my other place, and my family and I were concerned that my former senior living community would close without warning. I was living day to day wondering if I’d have to move.

“My youngest son, Bob, did some research and found Victorian Castle. This place is wonderful. The people here are so friendly and helpful. My son wanted me to be close to him and it worked out. You turn a corner from his house and you’re here.”

Bonnie, who was born in Chicago and the oldest of three siblings, grew up in the Milwaukee area. She recalls her early life as an adventure with her father serving in the U.S. Army.

“In my time, mothers didn’t work. But, when my dad was away from home in the military, my mother took a job at a laundromat and raised us kids.

“We all had to look out for each other. You just have to keep working at it, even when things get hard.”

Bonnie attended Bay View High School, where she met Bill Sommer, who became her high school sweetheart. They later married and had three children, Bill, Sandy and Bob.

“Bill was in the U.S. Coast Guard and I was going to nursing school, but I was told that I had too much compassion to be a nurse so I had to find something else to do. I was disappointed at first, but we settled here. Bill was in the Coast Guard part-time and worked as a laborer at different factories. I worked at a drug store part-time and at various jobs in food service. I always enjoyed cooking.”

When we asked Bonnie what she loves most about Victorian Castle, she said, “The people. One of the residents here is a good friend. We hit it off so well that we watch football games together. I never watched football with my late husband, but my friend and I have the same kind of interests. If I had trouble with my TV, he would come and fix it for me.”

Bonnie appreciates the staff who stop by to talk with her. The people here take care of residents in good times and bad, she says, and you won’t go through any challenges alone.

“If I had a chance to move, I wouldn’t. I’m a queen and living in my castle now.”

A Look Ahead: What 2021 will look like for Castle Senior Living

By Senior Living

We shifted and forged ahead through an unusual year, accelerating our focus on the health and safety of residents and employees. Our team and the entire Castle Senior Living community accomplishes incredible things when we work together. Castle Senior Living Vice-President and Owner Kris Kiefer says we’re on the path to achieve even more in 2021.

What are you most proud of at Castle Senior Living as we leave 2020 behind?
I am so impressed with our team. We brought on some dynamic people like Diana Howell, Mitch Reuter, Samantha Brenner-Carr, Meghan Sullivan and others to support our team strengthen our fight against COVID-19. 2020 was a definitely a year for us to excel in leadership, and I saw firsthand how we focused and stayed together. There was a tremendous communication exchange between our COVID-19 committee, the state and local health departments, the residents and families, and I credit the direction of our team for that.

We have been a strong leader in the fight against COVID-19 and implementing preventative measures. We created additional positions to help support the care staff and allow for uninterrupted time off, if needed. New protocols were implemented for cleaning, visiting, dining, and activities that help maintain resident satisfaction while improving health safeguards.

There are no restrictions on admissions at Castle Senior Living. New people are moving in and it’s been a smooth and successful transition integrating them into our communities.

How have the past nine months led you as an owner of Castle Senior Living to adjust the focus of your business looking ahead to 2021 and beyond?
The time helped us discover what really matters. To us, it’s treating others like family and providing exceptional care. We realize that a lot can change in a year, and recognized that it is important to slow down and show those around you that you love and care about them.

Could you share some of your goals for Castle Senior Living in 2021?
There are several exciting activities. We are creating a Medicare-Certified Hospice service at our company. This will enhance the quality of care for residents nearing end-of-life. We hope to be certified by the end of this year. Additionally, we recently completed our ‘Smile to Remember’ Memory Care program, which will be implemented in the coming months. And we are pursuing expansion opportunities in the Milwaukee area to provide better living environments for seniors.

Tell us a bit more about “A Smile to Remember.” What will this program mean for families and residents in need of additional support?
When we first shared our goals of the program, we received nothing but positive feedback from our residents’ families. They understood that it was Castle Senior Living’s priority to focus on dementia care. Our program really puts things in perspective and outlines how to improve care for residents with dementia. We integrated this into our orientation and training throughout 2020 to make sure everything was laid out in detail because we want to be the experts in the field. This is not just a one-time thing, but part of ongoing training that we can follow. Our priority is to make sure residents have the best experience and best outcomes from what we put together.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2021?
I believe it involves overcoming the fear factor of COVID-19. It’s our job to continuously reassure people that we abide by safety measures to protect against all viruses and bacteria. Community living for older Americans is a tremendous benefit – from the social aspect, quality of dining and health oversight.

Visitation is an issue that’s hurting the industry right now with restrictions on who can see our residents. When those constraints are lifted, it will definitely help to welcome back visitors on a regular basis.

It’s that time of year for resolutions. Is there a personal goal that you want to achieve in 2021?
For me, it’s all about staying healthy, improving my personal health and fitness, and spending time with my wife and four children.

I hope to play piano more for our residents, something that I haven’t been able to do since last March. I want to get back into the communities and take some personal song requests. That would be terrific.

Caregiver marks 10th anniversary with Castle Senior Living

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Congratulations to LaDonna Savage, a third shift caregiver at Emerald Castle, who celebrated her tenth work anniversary with us earlier this year! LaDonna says caring for others is her way of life as she manages two full-time jobs while looking after her family and grandchildren. She recently spent some time with us and shared how her dedication for helping people led her to the Castle Senior Living family.

Tell us about your journey to become a caregiver?

My mom got sick in 2000, so I started looking into how to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or caregiver. I quit my job managing a fast-food restaurant and went into caregiving with no experience. I always served people and my community in a different way. Helping the disabled and the sick is my way of giving back.

I’m always taking care of someone. I have a husband, nine grandchildren with the nine children I had growing up in our home. I’ve also work full-time, second shift for residents at a developmentally disabled facility for 15 years along with my Castle Senior Living position. These are the people I see and serve every day.

What do you enjoy most about working for Castle Senior living at the Emerald Castle community?

I’d have to say it’s the one-on-one time and the care for residents. I look forward to seeing them each day, especially the ones that stay up when I start my shift at 11:00 pm. They call me the ‘third shift cleaning lady.’ I cook, clean, do the laundry and prep for the next day. Some residents want food, a cup of coffee or some just like to talk to me. The residents know you. You have to be sincere, have patience and compassion. It comes from the heart.

I’m glad to be a part of the team and a great company. It’s not just a job here. There’s incredible support and compassion for employees. During the time I’ve worked for Castle Senior Living, I had two house fires and our family lost everything. They were there with donations and time off until I was ready to come back. When you lose everything, it’s nice to know you have family. When my mom died in 2015, their support was beautiful. No one ever knows how far the love goes outside your family. When I returned to work, the support and love from co-workers was there.

What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned on the job in the past year?

With the pandemic, we learned to be safer and it’s important to continue to do so. As workers, we are going outside of the building. We don’t want this crisis coming into our doors.

I have a lot of patience – more than I ever thought. I learned it is my destiny to help others, to love and support them.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like having my hair done. That’s my downtime and own time. Just for me.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that other people might not know.

The people here say I’m funny, amazing, and honest. I don’t hold back. My supervisor says I tell it like it is. Honesty is the best way. Anyone that knows me understands that no matter what I say, I never mean any harm.