The first-ever retirement center to gain a Planetree Designation, this St. Charles community is serious about personal care. Discover how it goes above the competition.
Virginia Monken was content living on her own, well into her 80s. But when she fell down a flight of steps and sustained serious injuries, Monken’s family knew she could no longer live on her own.
Four years ago, Monken moved into a studio apartment at Delnor Glen Senior Living, 975 N. Fifth Ave., in St. Charles. She lives independently, but help is close by. Today, Monken can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“It’s so beautifully appointed a place to live,” she says. “It’s like walking into an elegant home. The staff is dedicated, polite and fun. I’ve met so many new friends, and I stay plenty busy with all of the activities. It’s a very friendly and cozy atmosphere. I’ve been more than satisfied living here.”
It’s not just the residents who are impressed. Recently, Delnor Glen became one of only 46 health care organizations worldwide, and the first and only long-term care community in the country, to receive the Planetree designation. The nonprofit Planetree provides education and information to help create person-centered care in healing environments, such as health care and senior living organizations.
“This recognition represents excellence in person-centered care – that’s what we’re about,” says Executive Director Peggy Faught, RNC, also a past recipient of an individual Planetree caregiver award. “We have a very holistic approach to caring for our seniors. We see each resident as the individuals they are, giving people different options and involving them in their own care. We’ve always done that. This honor was really an opportunity to recognize our staff for a job well done.”
In 2009, Delnor Glen became one of only 25 assisted living facilities in the country to be part of a pilot program for the Planetree designation of assisted living. For nearly four years, Planetree conducted a series of focus groups with Delnor Glen that included site visits and interviews with hundreds of residents, family members and health care staff.
Faught traveled to Canada to receive the honor, but planned a huge celebration back home to share the moment with residents, families and staff. “They’re totally invested in Delnor Glen as a community,” she says. “You should have seen their faces when we were going through the Planetree designation. They were so excited. We couldn’t have done it without them. I’ve never worked with a better group of people.”
Delnor Glen is warm, inviting and boasts a traditional look with pillars and a red brick facade. The main floor features a sunny wicker room, fireplace, baby grand piano and an aviary full of finches. A beautiful dining room is open for three meals a day, all of which are prepared from scratch. The second floor has a library, computers, craft room and a family room for watching movies. The lower level includes a beauty shop, community room and kitchen. All levels have laundry facilities. Candy dishes, fresh flowers and pictures of each resident can be found around the community, just like at home. Large fish tanks can also be found throughout the living center.
“We’ve tried to think of everything to make the residents as comfortable as possible,” says Faught.
Delnor Glen opened in the late 1990s as an independent living center, serving the St. Charles area. It’s housed in the original Delnor Hospital, which was founded in 1940 by local philanthropists Dellora and Lester Norris. Delnor Hospital and Geneva’s Community Hospital merged in 1985; the new Delnor-Community Hospital opened in Geneva six years later.
In the 1990s, some of the original hospital building was demolished and the remaining space remodeled for Delnor Community Residential Living, which opened in 1998. The name was later changed to Delnor Glen Senior Living.
Over the years, Delnor Glen, which is now part of Cadence Health, has grown to include 78 assisted living apartments, a 15-unit community designed for residents with memory loss or dementia, and 28 residential townhouses that were built in 2002 just south of the main complex.
Faught, who came to Delnor Glen 14 years ago, is passionate about working with seniors.
“They’re my heroes,” she says. “As a society, we have a special opportunity to care for the generations who did so much for us. Those who helped raise us, whose work built the community and whose strength shaped this country now look to us.”
Faught credits the staff of 81 with creating a positive living environment. “People who work here are very caring,” she says. “Our focus is on abilities, not disabilities. Our program sets residents up for daily successes based on the services provided to their specific needs.”
Staff assists residents with a variety of needs such as bathing, dressing, grooming, exercise and help getting to meals and activities. The nursing staff and certified nursing aids are available 24 hours a day to meet all scheduled and unscheduled needs. All staff, including housekeeping, takes part in continuing education in the field of dementia care. Off-site physicians, podiatrists, dentists and home care are available when needed.
“We’re helping residents to stay independent and maintain their dignity,” Faught says. “We’re here to guide them and to help them feel good about themselves through their daily challenges, especially our residents with dementia. Everyone is equipped to handle any situation that might occur.”
And that includes end-of-life care. “We’re all about relationships here, with the people we care for, our families and each other,” Faught adds. “We have a lot of support for one another. Sometimes we laugh together, and sometimes we cry together. I believe it’s a privilege to be with someone at the end of their life.”
Residents are often asked for input on key decisions, such as when changes are made to carpeting and furniture. In addition, an in-house residential council votes on issues impacting all residents, and a food committee often shares personal recipes with staff. Delnor Glen also works with family members to ensure that policies and procedures are made in the best interest of residents.
“We give them a voice, and they really appreciate that,” Faught says. “We love the feedback. If we have a challenge, we bring people together to brainstorm the best possible solutions. That’s part of being invested.”
Joan Budilovsky did her homework before her mother, Leona, an author, moved to Delnor Glen following the death of husband John, four years ago.
“I visited every assisted living facility in the area, but as soon as I went to Delnor Glen, I knew it was a special place,” says Budilovsky. “It was cozy, intimate and felt comfortable. I feel my mom is fortunate to be here. I hope when I’m my mother’s age and in need, I can find a place that is just as special.”
Residents at Delnor Glen enjoy taking part in a number of activities and events that are offered throughout the week. That includes knitting, bingo, exercise programs, walking clubs, sing-alongs, and outings to movies, plays and local parks. On Friday evenings, residents are treated to musical entertainment.
“We want to give them a chance to feel like they’re going out, even though many of them can’t physically leave,” Faught says. “We try to do our best to offer our residents the best possible experience.”
As a family-centered community, Delnor Glen makes a point of bringing residents and family members together to celebrate life’s special occasions. In the spring, for example, an ice cream social is held for more than 200 residents and invited guests. Last fall, more than 300 people turned out for Delnor Glen’s 15th anniversary celebration, which featured a German theme complete with food, spirits and dancing. A large annual holiday party is held every December.
“Delnor Glen is an amazing place,” says Budilovsky. “That comes with leadership. It starts at the top. Peggy is a beautiful person to be heading the group. She walks the walk.”
Any job is made easier when you enjoy what you do.
“Overall, our philosophy is to create a culture that supports and nurtures healing on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual,” Faught says. “By nurturing relationships, we will enrich the day-to-day lives of our residents, families, staff and community as a whole.”