Size matters

Smaller housing clusters at Emerald Crest offer residences that are easier to navigate

Each Emerald Crest community includes between two and five homes, each featuring a single common area shared by residents who occupy 12 to 15 adjoining suites.
Each Emerald Crest community includes between two and five homes, each featuring a single common area shared by residents who occupy 12 to 15 adjoining suites.

When most people see Emerald Crest by Augustana Care communities, they say they don’t look like other memory care facilities.

And they don’t.

Buildings in Emerald Crest communities — in Burnsville, Minnetonka, Shakopee and Victoria — look more like clusters of large, single-family homes.

Residents at Emerald Crest share common spaces in a single large home with 12 to 15 private rooms.

Each community has from two to five homes. Inside each home is a central living and kitchen area, surrounded by 12 to 15 suites for residents who share those common areas.

Developed in 1998 by eldercare housing experts Joe Guertin and Greg Getchell, the Emerald Crest model of care is based on research that shows people with memory challenges fare better in smaller, home-like residences that are easier to manage and navigate.

And it’s not just the structure that’s unique at Emerald Crest communities, said Christine Drasher, director of admissions at Emerald Crest.

Shared living area

Emerald Crest’s occupational therapy program — created by Theresa Klein, a Twin Cities cognitive clinical specialist — is designed to help people with cognitive issues function at the highest level possible by focusing on their abilities instead of deficits.

Occupational therapists provide structure throughout the day designed to help restore rhythms, connections and routines that may have been lost, Drasher said.

Emerald Crest provides three levels of care.

  • The Vine Program offers a support system that serves as an extension of home for people in early stages of cognitive decline.
  • The Spring Program includes more structure through familiar activities that keep residents engaged.
  • The Marigold Program involves even more support and specially designed activities such as multi-sensory environments to stimulate brain activity and capabilities.

Emerald Crest

Locations: Burnsville, Minnetonka, Shakopee and Victoria

Opened: Established in 1998; joined Augustana Care in 2009

Ages: 55 and older

Number of units: Each home includes 12 to 15 rooms, ranging from 200 to 400 square feet in size, clustered around a central living room, kitchen and dining area. Homes include gardens so residents can enjoy the outdoors in fine weather.

Cost for a single resident: Housing costs $3,200 to $4,000 per month. Residents also pay for health-care services, according to the level of care they require. Additional care packages are available to meet each resident’s health and safety needs.

Resident coordinators/caregivers provide varied levels of assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including monitoring, supervision, assistance), including daily living skills such as eating, dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting, according to each resident’s care plan (determined by a registered nurse and occupational therapy assessment). Care package fees begin at $2,100 per month.

Ownership: Emerald Crest is part of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Augustana Care, which offers housing, health care and community-based services for older adults and others in need, serving 3,000 people daily and more than 12,000 annually.

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Do you know of a new or interesting senior housing facility in the Twin Cities that might make a good Housing Spotlight? Write Minnesota Good Age editor Sarah Jackson at [email protected] with the subject line HOUSING SPOTLIGHT.