About a week after Pam Lewis retired from Cherry Village, a long-term-care residence in Great Bend, her 97-year-old mother fell and broke her arm.
Doris Johansen, who is now 98, stayed in a nursing home for a short time but when she returned home Lewis moved in with her.
“Mom didn’t need 24/7 nursing care but needed help with meals, laundry, housekeeping and other day-to-day tasks,” Lewis said. “I soon realized that other people are in similar situations.”
One thing led to another and Lewis will open Aster Estates this fall at 155 NW 10th Ave., a short distance from the city limits on the west side of North McKinley.
Lewis, a registered nurse, and her mom plan to make their home at Aster Estates, which provides a “living style that promotes and supports independence, with caring professionals and para-professionals on staff,” Lewis said. “This model of care is often referred to as ‘home plus.’
“We are hiring several care professionals to help with tasks that don’t require a registered nurse. Our nurse’s aides, medication aides, and a licensed practical nurse or RN will always be on hand to help.”
Aster Estates’ residential capacity is eight people in the almost 3,600 square feet of living space. The basement, which has more than 2,600 square feet, will be home to staff offices.
To enjoy all amenities, residents must be ambulatory on their own or with a walker, and be able to stand and walk with minimal assistance.
Everyone will have a private suite; most suites have either full baths or half baths. The home, including all bathrooms, has been extensively remodeled.
Other Aster Estates features include: three home-cooked meals a day and snacks; a swimming pool for water aerobics and relaxation with supervision; outdoor pool table and fire pit; and large outdoor sitting/activity area.
“We encourage people to join in activities and get involved in helping with meal preparation, if they are so inclined,” Lewis said. “However, we understand that sometimes residents just want their privacy. We respect that too.”
In addition, staff members are available to take residents to medical appointments. “We realize that family members don’t always live close by,” Lewis commented. “If the resident chooses, we will provide transportation and attend appointments to ask questions and alleviate the stress of doctors’ visits.”
Lewis retired from Cherry Village in July of 2018. “It became difficult to focus on resident care as a stand-alone non-profit facility. I felt as if the volumes of regulations were forcing me to choose between residents’ needs and regulations.”
Lewis and her family have been involved in the care of elders for nearly 50 years.
Aster Estates is licensed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. “Yes, the state will monitor us, as it should,” Lewis said. “But the federal government is not making decisions about how people in Great Bend live their lives.”
Erin Lewis, Pam’s daughter-in-law, worked at Cherry Village and is now the business manager at Aster Estates.
“We want everyone to feel at home; that is the most important thing,” Erin said. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they have been stuck somewhere without having a purpose in life. This is a setting as much like home as we can possibly make it.”
Remodeling began soon after the purchase of the house in February. An architect and designer were involved, and Just In Time Remodeling, 1311 Williams St., has handled the job from start to finish.
“They have been great to work with and the house is so light and airy now,” Erin commented. “We have all collaborated to marry the comfort of home with individualized care and service. Each resident will enjoy personal attention.”
When the remodeling project is complete, the residence will be professionally cleaned from top to bottom.
For more information about residency, contact Erin Lewis by calling 620-282-3733.