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Sunnyside sets up home services

In late September 2009, Sunnyside Care Center of Lake Park received a grant of nearly $90,000 to set up a home care services program for older adult residents of Lake Park, Cormorant, Audubon and surrounding areas.

For the next few months, the staff set about the business of obtaining a license, developing guidelines and receiving the necessary training to make "Sunnyside at Home" a reality.

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place on Jan. 26, when Sunnyside finalized a contract with Becker County Human Services that would allow them to offer the program to seniors who couldn't afford to pay for home care services on their own.

"We're pleased that the State of Minnesota recognizes our commitment to innovation and empowering people in their lives," said Katie Lundmark, administrator of Sunnyside Care Center.

What this grant will accomplish, Lundmark added, is that area seniors will be able to get the same level of care offered at an assisted living facility -- without leaving the comfort of their own homes.

"The purpose behind the grant is to keep people in their homes longer," she added.

One of the means of accomplishing this is by "keeping them healthier longer," she added.

The $89,969 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services will help fund the start-up costs of the program, which will eventually become self-sustaining, Lundmark noted.

Some of the startup costs include purchasing the equipment for the Voicecare personal emergency response system (PERS).

The Voicecare system is similar to Life Alert and other PERS's, in that it has a base unit and a call button that can be worn as a pendant or a wristband.

The Voicecare system will be available to "Sunnyside At Home" customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a set monthly fee.

Besides Voicecare, the new "Sunnyside at Home" program also offers services such as light housekeeping, shopping, laundry, bathing and assistance with other daily activities, according to Mandy Weber, resident services director at Sunnyside.

"We've definitely received some phone calls (for information about the program)," Lundmark added.

Once that initial contact is made, the next step is to "determine what their needs are," Weber said.

Those needs may include help with regulating their medications, the installation of a PERS unit for added personal safety, or sometimes, providing help for a caregiver who needs the day off -- basically, "whatever we can do to help they stay in their homes longer," Weber said.

Right now, there are about 10 Sunnyside staff members involved with the program. Besides Weber and Lundmark, there are two licensed practical nurses (LPNs), one registered nurse (RN), four home health aides and a couple of office staff members who work with the home care program.

For more information about "Sunnyside at Home," please contact Mandy Weber, resident services, at 218-238-5944.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454