(decorahnews.com is beginning a three-part series of stories on proposed changes involving Aase Haugen Senior Services):
Aase Haugen Senior Services officials are meeting this week with an architect, in preparation for a fund drive to raise money for a new 115-bed facility on land close to the Vennehjem property off Highland Drive.
Aase Haugen Executive Director Jeffrey Schmidt tells decorahnews.com the new facility would replace the facilities on Ohio Street, which date back to 1962. Much has changed in senior living services since then, says Schmidt, and moving to new facilities on the north end of Decorah would allow Aase Haugen to take advantage of work flow efficiencies and new technologies.
Schmidt says a recent survey concluded that the Winneshiek County area needs another 125 nursing home beds. The new facility off Highland Drive would only be 11 beds bigger than the current nursing home, but with an 86-acre campus, there's plenty of room for growth.
Actually, it's not so much a question of limitations of building size, says Schmidt, but of employee workforce size. Like all other area employers, Aase Haugen Senior Services has struggled to find qualified employees. A new facility would eliminate the inefficiencies of the current facility, which grew in stages, and would be able to integrate computer technologies that would make it easier for existing staff members to interact with residents.
Schmidt says the senior living market has been undergoing rapid changes in recent years, especially in Decorah, where people are moving into town for their retirement. These are active seniors, he says, and they want services to help them keep their non-sedentary lifestyles.
Part of the capital campaign later this year will include educational briefs, marketing materials and public relations activities that will seek to get the public involved in saying what type of elder care they want in the area. Schmidt says the goal is to make the Decorah area "the flagship of elder-care services in Northeast Iowa."
(Coming in Part 2: Other possibilities for the 86-acre Vennehjem property)