Fond du Lac Assisted Living Provides Elder Care

Fond du Lac Assisted Living, Cloquet, Minnesota
Fond du Lac Assisted Living, Cloquet, Minnesota

CLOUQET, Minnesota. – As people age and become elderly, they often face the  reality of needing additional care and support. It could be help with cooking,  cleaning, or laundry. Or, it could be improved access to transportation,  medical care, and social services. At the Fond du Lac Indian reservation in  Cloquet, Minn., providing adequate support for seniors has been an ongoing  challenge. The Fond du Lac Band provides home care, but they have not, until  recently, offered full-service, 24-hour housing to tribal elderly. That’s  changing. “There’s a need for community members to have a place to live when  they are no longer able to stay safely in their home,” said Deb Smith, public  health nursing department coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band. “In the past,  tribal members had to leave our community to find assisted living, and they  often end up in an unfamiliar setting.”

To address this challenge and build an assisted-living  center on the reservation, the Fond du Lac Band called upon DSGW Architects. “They  came to us with the idea to build a prototype assisted-living facility that  could, if successful, be replicated throughout their reservation,” said Randy  Wagner, DSGW partner.

The idea was to build a facility that was more residential  in nature—instead of a traditional nursing home—to provide a welcoming, warm,  and familiar environment for elderly tribal members.

Using their expertise in medical facility design, DSGW staff  created the Fond du Lac Band’s first on-site housing center for seniors. The  result is a new, ten-room assisted living facility, conveniently located on  reservation land. “Our members now have a place to go, right down the road from  their families and friends,” said Smith.

Each room in the facility offers a kitchenette, living area,  private bedroom, walk-in closet, and accessible bathroom. Further amenities  include an activity area, a family great room for dining, a central laundry  facility, and office space for the reservation’s home health care nursing  program. Finally, the new facility offers a beautician area, a residential  kitchen for making goodies or an ice cream treat, and a commercial kitchen  large enough to serve the existing building plus a possible future addition. The  culture of the tribe will be carried throughout the facility by showcasing  artwork, such as artifacts and photos, from local artists.

The new building faces south to capture light and heat  during Minnesota’s cold winter months, and offers a four-season porch and cozy sunroom  plus a drive-under canopy to shelter residents from inclement weather. Behind  the new facility, the private backyard has a shaded area with attractive gazebo,  a garden for use by residents, and a walking trail that surrounds the building.  Indoor mobility, of course, is also an important consideration. “In our  northern climate, it’s important for residents to be able to walk inside,” said  Wagner. “The building, therefore, is arranged in a loop. Traffic patterns are  circular, so that people can walk freely throughout the complex.”

During the planning, financing, and building of their new  assisting living facility, Fond du Lac staff members appreciated DSGW’s  experience working with tribal governments. “We’ve worked with DSGW for many  years,” said Smith. “They’re very professional, they know our corporate structure,  and they’re open to suggestions.”

“We understand tribal construction planning and the various approval  processes,” added Wagner. “Owners expect a high level of expertise in these  areas and that’s what DSGW delivers.”

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