Smaller is better, says English Rose Suites

The Minnesota-based company leans on trained staff to provide care on a smaller scale for those living with dementia

By Valerie Engler
Friday, February 28, 2014

As a child, Jayne Clairmont remembers lighting up when her grandpa would tell stories about his life. So much, in fact, that when it came time for “show and tell” at school, she brought her grandpa to meet the class.

“I was incredibly close to to my grandparents,” Clairmont says. “They are really the reason why I love working with elderly people.”

Today, as the owner of English Rose Suites — a cluster of individual assisted living homes in Wayzata and Edina — Clairmont works to improve the quality of life for those living with forms of dementia.  

Founded in 1997 by Geralyn Mornson, the Minnesota-based home care company provides an intimate setting for care. The company operates five homes that accommodate up to six residents each and are complete with professionally designed interiors, landscaped gardens and walkways, and a fully trained staff.

Clairmont became Mornson’s business partner in 1999 after years of working in larger assisted living facilities and seeing the confusion that many residents experienced due to the size of their accommodations. She became the sole owner in 2009.

“There used to be just a few choices when it came to housing,” Clairmont says about assisted living. “But we started noticing that people with dementia living in larger environments struggled with routine, location, and even finding their own room. We started to see a need to create a smaller setting for people living with dementia.”

Clairmont believes the company is only as good as its staff, which is why each of the 100 or so employees is personally trained. “At the end of the day it all starts and stops with the employee and the leaders that support the employee,” Clairmont says. “When we do that right, we get incredible results.”

One example is the use of essential oils as a non-medicinal way to help Alzheimer's patients sleep, an initiative spearheaded by Katie Rinehimer, a quality-of-life coordinator at English Rose Suites. By surveying 22 participants over nine months, English Rose Suites and the Health Partners Center for Memory and Aging learned that people with Alzheimer's could get about 43 more minutes of sleep each night with help from lavender oil.

English Rose Suites will share the results as a presenter at the March 1 Meeting of the Minds Conference in St. Paul. “I’m constantly looking for new ways that we look our environment and how we serve both our residents and their families,” Clairmont says. “[My job] is a gift to be able to do.”