Small town assisted living
By Scott Faingold
“When I was 16 years old, my grandma was very sick, and she was unable to speak,” says Cari Claussen, founder of Country Lane Memory Care in Riverton. “She was in a Springfield nursing home and the care was not good. I always said that if I ever got the opportunity to help people who had no voice, that I would.” After receiving her degree in psychology from UIS, Claussen worked as an advocate for seniors for more than 15 years before beginning work on the recently opened assisted living facility.
Country Lane was in the works for over two years before finally opening on August 8. “I’ve always had a dream to have a facility like this, and it finally came true,” she says. “There were a lot of loopholes and a lot of hurdles, but we finally got through it all. It’s really exciting. We’ve got a great group of residents and they’re happy, their family members are happy, we’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”
A grand opening event in June drew over 300 people, according to Claussen. “It was a super turnout from all the surrounding communities – there were people who were just curious from driving by while it was being built, but also some who were interested in care for their loved ones.”
Offering 24-hour care for a maximum of 50 residents, the building is locked to prevent confused residents from getting out and wandering around. Medication management is offered along with nursing services. All meals are provided for residents, with special dietary needs taken into consideration.
Along with basic needs being taken care of, Country Lane also focuses strongly on the quality of life for its residents with a beauty shop, a theater room and an activity room all on site. “Our whole building is centered around the dining room, and we encourage residents to get out of their rooms and to socialize,” Claussen says.
Country Lane is located on seven acres of family farm ground. “It’s a beautiful country setting for our residents, and in the spring and summer the fields will be growing, so they will be able to look at that.”
The “memory care” portion of the facility’s name reflects a specific targeting of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in the early to middle stages, according to Claussen. “Age really does not matter,” she explains. “With these diseases, sometimes you see people in their early 60s who have this all the way up to 90 or older. It’s really just who needs the care.” In addition to permanent residential care, Country Lane also offers adult day services with full care offered from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. as well as short-term respite care (up to 30 days) for those needing to transition home after a hospital stay.
Claussen has a deeply rooted passion for this work dating back to her early experiences with her grandmother, and she plans to hold her staff to a very high standard. “I will provide training and education,” she says. “It’s important that the staff understands the disease process and what this special population needs.”
Riverton and the surrounding communities, such as Dawson and Sherman, have been supportive of the project, according to Claussen. “A lot of people have called wanting to volunteer, they’re just excited about it. They want to make sure their family member is taken care of and also want to stay close to home.” Claussen has found social media an effective way to do outreach for Country Lane, receiving many responses from the facility’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Country-Lane-Memory-Care-Assisted-Living-864864230270560/). “I’m willing to talk with anybody,” she says. “I’m always going around and introducing myself to people.”