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A time of transition at Lakeview Ranch
Nov. 24, 2014

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

One year following the announcement that the Pohlad Foundation would secure the financial future of Lakeview Ranch, the dementia care center has officially changed ownership.

Founder and CEO Judy Berry retired from Lakeview Ranch Nov. 12, at which time, the dementia care center, with facilities in rural Dassel and Darwin, has made the transition to operate as a non-profit. The non-profit under which Lakeview operates is known as the Vacker Place. Vacker is Swedish for “beautiful.”

It will operate under a board of directors with members from the community, and Michelle Olson will be the administrator.

Olson came on board in June to assist with the transition.

She comes to Lakeview Ranch with a masters of science degree in management in health care, along with a masters in business administration, in which all of her theses work was done on dementia care.

Prior to her work at Lakeview, Olson worked for Presbyterian Homes and assisted in the opening of a new community in Wayzata, Folkestone, which, she explained, specialized in the whole continuum of care.

The board of directors includes: president – Mike Boyle of Meeker Memorial Hospital; treasurer – Diana Anderson of the Southwest Initiative Foundation; secretary – Dave Daegas with Center Bank of Litchfield; board members – Mary Neu of Dassel, a licensed social worker; Joseph Gaugler, associate professor and McKnight Presidential Fellow in the School of Nursing and Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota; and ex-officio, Jen Van Liew, CEO of MVNA (Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association).

The transition doesn’t equate to much of a change. “Essentially, we’re keeping things the same, with some minor changes,” Olson said.

Lakeview Ranch will maintain its high staff-to-resident ratio, and will continue its commitment to Berry’s model of care.

The foundation of Lakeview Ranch was built from Berry’s own experience with her mother, who suffered from dementia.

She believed there was more the health care system could do to meet the emotional needs of those with the debilitating disease without over-medication.

Berry commented how thrilled and blessed she feels that she found support from others within the community, “who have the the commitment to continue the legacy of The Ranch and the specialized level of dementia care critical to providing dignity, respect and the quality of life to our seniors with dementia.”

What makes Lakeview stand out in dementia care is its practice of redirection, explained Susan Marco, community liaison and marketing manager with Lakeview Ranch.

She explained that with memory loss, there comes a lot of frustration by the individual.

When that happens, staff at Lakeview try to redirect the resident’s focus on other activities such as art therapy, music therapy, and pet therapy.

“Those touchstones do not diminish with the disease,” Marco said.

Lakeview Ranch also practices a technique called validation in which staff try to validate the resident’s feelings by entering into their reality, according to Olson.

She explained that patients with dementia oftentimes revert to their past.

“Instead of finding fault in their reasoning, we’re validating their feelings,” Olson said. This will typically relieve anxiety.

By using such techniques and more holistic approaches, Lakeview is able to use medication appropriately.

“That’s one of the most defining pieces of Berry’s model of care that will live on,” Olson commented.

Not only does Lakeview Ranch want to continue Berry’s model of care in Dassel and Darwin, it would also like to duplicate that model elsewhere, Boyle added.

Lakeview Ranch is also working to build stronger relationships within the community, and building more community connections, according to Marco. This includes employing more than 75 people from the area.

Lakeview Ranch will now operate as a 501(c)3, meaning all donations are tax-deductible.

It is also functioning under the management of the MVNA.

“They are working with us to maintain the financial security of Lakeview Ranch so we can serve residents for years to come,” Olson said.

“Where we are today is a wonderful place, and I do feel that the future of Lakeview Ranch is very bright,” said Olson.

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