The Latter Days Assisted Living facility feels like home
Uwin Van Buren is 99 years old this year and she admits that she “doesn’t see too well” anymore. But her eyes light up when asked about her new home here at the Latter Days Assisted Living facility in Santaquin.
“It’s a good place to be,” says Uwin. “I couldn’t be with better people.”
She’s been a part of the Latter Days’ family for eight years now and hopes to hit the century mark surrounded by her real family, including her 23 grandchildren and her new family at the facility. Uwin, still an active spirit at 99, came to the facility with her husband Fred seven years ago from Orangeville, Utah and fell in love with a new group of people – the staff and residents of Latter Days Assisted Living.
Teri Strebel of Santaquin is one of the owners of the facility. She, like Uwin, feels like she’s part of a new family. “We like to think of ourselves as one big happy family,” she says. “We want to make it feel as much like home as we possibly can.”
Latter Days was recently recognized by the Santaquin City Chamber of Commerce as the Business of the Quarter. What goes on inside the facility, however, feels less like a business and more like grandma’s house.
The level two facility was constructed by Teri Strebel, her husband Carter, and Paul and Cathy Brown back in 2000. Twelve years later the facility has expanded to a 20-bed home. Teri Strebel says their focus on creating a home-like atmosphere for their residents has paid off and that they constantly have a waiting list for residency.
Unlike a traditional nursing home, the assisted living facility puts less emphasis on the clinical aspect of elderly care and more emphasis on the atmosphere, the relationships, and the stimulating activities. Every day is a new day of recreational activities designed to increase each resident’s quality of life.
From spa days to manicures and pedicures to cooking days, the employees of Latter Days keep their residents active and comfortable. “We are very interactive,” says Strebel. “We have a main activity every day.”
Strebel feels like the group activities are a positive factor in helping their residents stay happy.
“Make them feel independent, useful. Anything they would maybe do in their normal lives,” she says. “If you’re just left to sit and do nothing, pretty soon all you’re thinking about is your aches and pains…or worrying that they’ve been left by their family, or worrying about a family member.”
On this particular day the residents and staff are working together on Valentine’s decorations in anticipation of the upcoming holiday. One of the older residents, Blanche, tells stories of her younger days in Arkansas where she grew up on her favorite horse named Old Fancy. The staff interacts with the residents, telling inside jokes and talking about family as they put together heart-shaped door hangings for their rooms.
The staff is a big part of the family here.
“That’s something we tell our employees when we hire them,” says Strebel. “You are now adopted into our family here, you’re a family member.”
Emily Durbin from Nephi is a manager at the facility and says she fell in love with her job on the first day. “I’m the luckiest girl, I have 20 extra grandparents at any given time,” says Durbin.
Durbin and Strebel both understand how difficult the transition can be for a new resident who has never been in assisted care, but they do their best to make that transition a little easier.
“We know that we’ll never be able to replace their home,” says Strebel. “But we want to be the very next best place.”
According to Durbin, some of the residents prefer to stay at the facility through the holidays even though they have other places they could go. “They’re comfortable being here,” she says.
Even though business is good, for Strebel, the size of the facility is perfect for now and expansion doesn’t seem likely. “When you get too big they just become a number,” she says. “I want to be on a real personal level with them, walk through the door and know that it’s Uwin’s birthday today… or know that it would have been their 60th anniversary today.”
To Strebel, that’s the important thing about Latter Days care- it’s that personal touch.