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Seniors ‘get the service’ at Eskaton Lodge Granite Bay

Independent-living facility celebrates 10th anniversary
By: Laura O'Brien
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Eskaton resident Helen Wilson has lived in 14 states, but she didn’t need to pack a box for her latest transition.

“I’m in assisted living now for the first time and, boy, am I getting the service,” said Wilson, 86. “They help me get dressed in the morning and find what clothes I want to wear. They check my diabetes.”

In the 10 years since Eskaton Lodge Granite Bay opened, the elegant indepen-dent-living facility has added assisted living and hospice care. And the lodge isn’t resting on its laurels.

Improvements include the recent implementation of sensory technology that alerts staff when clients need a higher level of care. Eskaton also opened a new community room last month. Three smaller activity rooms onsite could not accommodate residents needing walkers, said Executive Director Vicky Cross.

“They feel uncomfortable when they go into a small room and then they have to leave their walker out in the hallway,” Cross said. “It was just a need to have a large room for all of them.”

Staff, residents and family members provided funding toward the $295,000 construction project with support from the Eskaton Foundation. The new room boasts an 80-inch wide-screen television and surround-sound system, made possible through staff-led fundraisers, including raffles and car washes.

On a weekday afternoon in March, jazz music wafted from the dining room, the only space previously big enough for larger events. The diverse offerings on Eskaton’s monthly activities calendar have included hula and belly dancing.

Activities are important to Wilson and fellow Eskaton resident Helen Crosby. The two women arrived at the Granite Bay lodge in the same month more than eight years ago.

“I play the organ for chapel hour once a week,” said Crosby, 91, who moved to Eskaton from Sun City Roseville. “I used to play for church, but it’s been a while.”

She said residents often request the gospel tune “In the Garden,” written in 1912.

Wilson said she enjoys participating in a singing group and exercise program. Her sons suggested she move to Eskaton after a couple of hospitalizations.

“When you give up your home, this is another nice home and people here are very friendly and we get good service, good food,” Wilson said. “The caregivers are trained. If someone’s sick, they can tell right away.”

When a resident in independent living needs more help, Eskaton care providers can assist them with bathing, medication management and wheelchair transfers. The resident remains in his or her apartment; they don’t need to move to another section of the facility. When necessary, the resident also may choose from hospice care providers.

Eskaton uses a concept referred to as “age in place.” Eskaton Lodge Granite Bay transitioned to offering “age in place” beginning in late 2009.

Beyond independent living, “age in place” offers residents’ family members peace of mind when their loved ones need monitoring and supportive services.

Trained Eskaton care providers receive direction from a staff nurse. Those clients with pressing medical needs are referred to skilled nursing, which is not offered onsite.

Complementing the “age in place” concept is the in-room technology QuietCare, an Intel-GE Care Innovations product that senses a resident’s movements, such as trips to the bathroom. Similar to a motion detector in appearance, the technology generates data that, when occurring in a particular pattern, may signal a need for a higher level of client care.

Meal service represents another facet of the quality of care at Eskaton.

Dietary Director Kim Kerley has worked at Eskaton for nine years, following a stint in food preparation at Folsom State Prison and as a manager of her own restaurants. She manages a staff of 27 at Eskaton.

“We all have the same passion for seniors,” she said. “It’s really just their home. We’re just here to assist them in their home.”

Kerley prepares monthly candlelight dinners in the winter and cruise-themed dinners in the summer. She buys sugar-free Oreos for the residents — whatever it takes to keep them eating and happy.

“Sometimes, the only time that they come out of their apartment is to come down for a meal, so we want that experience to be the best it can be,” Kerley said.

Celebrating residents’ birthdays is a favorite occasion for residents and Eskaton staff alike.

With the core group of Eskaton’s residents in the 80- to 90 year-old range, said Eskaton Sales Counselor Erica Caldwell, “I tell them they’re an elite bunch.”

Crosby shared her secret of longevity.

“Just go on living,” she said. “Breathe every day. That’s the only thing I know.”