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Construction Zone: Lasting Legacy Assisted Living adds second home

April 5, 2017 GMT

Lasting Legacy Assisted Living recently expanded and doubled its square footage by opening a second newly-built home on March 1. The structure is located on the same site as the original facility at 1636 Inverness Drive in the Heights. The new building improves on the first with updates in bathing features and adjusted counter-heights in the en suite bathrooms.

Owners Berni Brown and Chad Green’s mission at Lasting Legacy Assisted Living is to enrich resident lives by providing care for those who can no longer care for themselves.

The two met when Green’s grandmother lived in an assisted living home formerly owned by Brown, a registered nurse and CNA trainer. They share a commitment to providing compassionate care.

Learning from experience, the partners’ business plan limits the number of residents in their facilities.

“We have a small, intimate setting,” Brown said.

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That commitment makes it possible to be aware of what’s going on with each resident, said Lauren Sanford, manager of the original facility build in 2015. Residents are known by name, not a number.

“We get to know them as grandpa and grandma,” she said.

With a second residential facility, Lasting Legacy doubled the capacity for residents.

A new addition

Lasting Legacy Assisted Living is located at 1636 Inverness Drive at the intersection of Wicks Lane in the Billings Heights.

The homes sit on a 1.37-acre lot separated by a white gazebo and courtyard that come to life in spring with music and art-related activities amid raised vegetable gardens.

“The second phase was part of the (original business) plan as well,” said Green.

The new 8,000-plus-square-foot home, with HardiePlank siding and brick trim on the exterior, is a mirror image of the first facility. Green and Brown used the same architectural plans from the original project. The plans were designed by architects of Ackerly-Hurlburt & Associates.

A wide handicap-accessible main entryway accesses the communal living space.

The room is designed with enough clearance for people to move safely whether using a cane, walker or wheelchair. Large floor-length windows provide natural light and room for mobility-challenged residents to wheel their chairs up close to see outside.

High ceilings set off by dark-stained beams and luxury plank flooring create an elegant setting that includes a sitting area with a fireplace, a dining table to the right, and a large kitchen alcove.

Impermeable quartz is used on the galley-style kitchen’s countertops. A low counter facing the dining room separates the spaces.

Each home has 16 handicap-accessible rooms with private walk-in showers. Three rooms are double and 13 are single occupancy.

New features

Improvements to Lasting Legacy’s second phase were made based on what was learned from the first home, Brown said.

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Her favorite addition is a remote-controlled bidet toilet in the central bathroom. After the first home was built, Brown saw one on a trip to Europe and was convinced it would benefit residents and caregivers.

The bidet has controls for water pressure and angle, and includes a dryer.

It’s especially useful because most residents admitted to assisted living homes are in their 90s and incontinent. People are staying in their homes as long as possible, rather than leaving them in their 70s and 80s as they used to do, she said.

“When you get a 90-year-old who can’t bend, it’s a great feature,” Brown said.

The bathroom also includes a hydraulic lift chair for easier access to the bathtub. Some residents have not taken a bath for a long time because getting in and out of a bathtub is difficult and unsafe.

Another feature is a chair that can move a resident from a wheelchair to the conveyance and into the shower.

With each home, staff discovers new ways to improve the building’s features.

“If we built a third one, it would be different yet,” Brown said. “You get very intentional when you build your second home.”

Right on time

What makes the project stand out isn’t about the construction process, it has to do with Green and Brown’s philosophy about assisted living homes and the people he worked with, said contractor Steve Muller of Christianson & Muller Construction.

Muller’s father lived in a large nursing facility without the standards of Lasting Legacy Assisted Living, he said.

“The degree of care was in no way what they get (at Lasting Legacy),” Muller said. “It’s a lot more personal.”

With Brown’s experience as an RN and Green’s enthusiasm for providing excellent care, the focus is on making things better for residents, Muller said.

The residents’ needs are put first, with Brown looking for ways to make living experiences safer, easier and better through improvements to bathing or showering, he said.

Green said second-phase construction went well by using the same financing and building crews from the first project, including Jason Hinch of Yellowstone Bank and Ackerly-Hurlburt & Associates.

It took nine months to build the second structure. Ground breaking took place in June 2016, and the project went well until the snow hit in early December—although by then crews were able to work inside, Muller said.

“We’re pretty well on schedule,” Green said. “ (Christianson & Muller) have been great to work with.”

Muller said he and his partner, David Christianson, make supporting the local economy a priority.

“We worked with a lot of good people,” Muller said. “We buy local and use as many local subs as possible.”

Special connections

Enriching people’s lives means offering extra touches for residents and their families, Brown said.

Lasting Legacy has a four-to-one resident-to-staff ratio; quick response for daily and medical needs; routine on-site care by doctors, a physician’s assistant, dental hygienist and occupational, physical and speech therapists.

Two cooks make three meals a day from scratch. Residents wake when they want to and share their life stories at the dining room table while cleaning peas harvested from their garden.

Brooke Wagner, a music therapist, comes every two weeks. Music is tailored to residents’ interests.

“She gets them engaged,” Brown said. “She is phenomenal.”

A robust Facebook presence keeps family members informed about Halloween and Mardi Gras parties, an appearance by Santa Claus, and spa days, Sanford said. It’s a conversation starter for families.

When a resident arrives, a student volunteer from Skyview High School conducts an interview guided by a Lasting Legacy booklet. It includes questions about their life as a child, Biblical views, favorite restaurant and family genealogy.

After a resident’s passing, a document with the resident’s photograph on the cover is given to the person’s family.

The business was named with that concept in mind – that people want to leave a legacy for their family, Brown said.

“Life doesn’t have to stop when you go to assisted living,” Sanford said.

The business will host a grand opening on Friday, April 14 from 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit lastinglegacy.us or connect to their Facebook page.