Family takes on a different meaning at Montage Creek Assisted Living.
While the 15 year old senior living facility offers memory care and independent living, it offers a family away from family for its residents.
The mission behind the business is to “enhance lives and celebrate the excitement of living,” offering values that set the community apart in Montrose.
“We operate with five 'cherishes,'” Executive Director Annaliese Muhlbauer said.
“The first two cherishes that we put the most value in are our staff and our residents. The whole concept of our company is that if the staff are well taken care of, then they’ll take care of the residents. If the residents are well taken care of, they’ll want to live here.”
Montage Creek upholds values that provide quality service and attention to both residents and their staff, all while offering good communication with their families and a vibrant community.
Muhlbauer recently celebrated her one year anniversary with the facility, bringing with her 10 years worth of senior living experience and a love for the senior community overall.
While Montage staff's primary priority is providing top care to their residents, the company's goals extend further into the community as well.
“We want to provide a good employment opportunity for Montrose and the surrounding areas,” Muhlbauer said.
“We typically have an average of 80 staff members, so when comparing to other businesses in town, we want to be a good option for people.”
For Montage Creek, it’s important to have a good reputation for resident care so families and residents in the community have a safe and enjoyable place to consider as they get to the age where they require a little more assistance.
“A kind place to be," she said. "That’s the biggest thing we strive to provide.”
“If you speak to most of the people who work and live here, the goal is to operate as a family. Staff and residents are treated as family.”
Sales and Marketing Director Jennifer Schelling thinks the community offers a caring and thoughtful staff to the residents.
“I think they’re really great, and they have some great teamwork. They enjoy their jobs so much, so if you walk around and listen to them talk to the residents, it’s like they’re a big family.”
Muhlberg described the past year as a challenging one due to COVID-19, but not a year she would take back.
Like many working at Montage, she has developed strong relationships with the family members, the residents and staff, as well as outside entities like long-term care ombudsman Sandy Walker.
“I love working here," Muhlbauer said. "I would say we’ve got a really good structure and foundation here.”
One of the largest challenges presented this year has been losing the ability to have that personal touch.
“One of the abilities that elderly people lose as they age is physical contact,” Muhlbauer said. “Their loved ones die and they’re not living with their family, so simple gestures like hugs or holding hands, I think that’s been very missed.”
Like at any other senior living facility, residents at Montage Creek have found separation from their families to be a difficult challenge presented by COVID, but the community has striven to maintain that level of family care in the building.
Despite the unprecedented circumstances, the residents have shown an incredible resilience this past year, and their love for the community hasn’t wavered.
“This is the best place around here,” Carl Son, a six-year resident at the facility, said.
The 101-year-old resident shared his outlook on life.
“I believe that whatever is going to happen will happen," Son said. "Your days are numbered on earth.”
Son likes to look for the best in people, and recognizes that at some level, everyone likes to be noticed, particularly during COVID times where human contact isn’t allowed.
“I try to talk to everybody. There’s a lot of good in life, so it’s best to try not to look for the bad,” Son said.
“I know a lot of people here and they all know my name. You don’t know how lucky you are until you meet someone who doesn’t know who they are, and they don’t even know their own name.”
Mulhbauer explained that the staff tries hard to ensure their residents aren’t falling through the cracks.
If a resident isn’t seen in common areas for a while, staff will go by rooms for one-on-one visits so residents know they aren’t alone. It’s important for staff to help their residents feel like they have a family-like support system, especially when their own family members can’t be in the building with them.
Montage Creek is a community where their workers care about the people and the stories they bring with them.
“I really enjoy working here,” Schelling said.
“The residents are amazing, even when I’m not working or on my days off, being here with the residents is something that I love doing.”
The residents come with many stories to tell, and the staff enjoys getting to know each person more through each story.
“You just build this really amazing connection with them and I think a lot of people write seniors off at a certain point, and part of my job is to show everyone that these people still have a story to tell. They can still do really great things,” Schelling said.