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Perham Living earns five-star rating, other honors

Perham Living’s leadership team includes, front row, left to right: Danfe Gibson, Bob Sim, Annette Riestenberg, Kathy Schrandt and Karen Laughlin. Back row: Loren Meyer, Diane Krumwiede, Sue Sailer, Marnie Ammons, Pam Nelson, Katie Lundmark, Pam Logan and Kaylee Vaughan. Marie Johnson/FOCUS

Perham Living nursing home has earned some bragging rights.

It was announced at the end of February that Perham Living was rated a Best Nursing Home in Minnesota by U.S. News & World Report, after earning a five-star, highest-overall rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that sets the standards for nursing homes.

This news came on the heels of some other good news – the most recent annual resident satisfaction survey, conducted in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, ranked Perham Living above the state average, in the 90th percentile compared to about 87 percent statewide. Perham Living Home Care’s client satisfaction scores also climbed, to 92 percent.

Katie Lundmark, vice-president of long term care at Perham Living, said these scores were notably higher than they’ve been in memorable history. They, along with the new five-star rating and U.S. News & World Report’s recognition, are “a huge pat on the shoulders of the team here, who work every day to create the best living environment for the people who reside here,” she said.

In an interview with Lundmark and several other members of the Perham Living leadership team, the consensus was that the nursing home’s recent accomplishments primarily stem from Perham Living’s patient-centered model of care.

Implemented in 2003-2004, this model focuses on the needs of residents above all else, seeking to improve their quality of life by giving them choices, control, simple daily pleasures and activities that provide purpose and meaning.

“Things have changed here, from what works for the nursing home to what works for the resident,” said Diane Krumwiede, director of nutrition services for Perham Living. “Residents are allowed to live their lives on their own schedules, and with dignity.”

Now, for example, residents can sleep and wake up at their own natural paces, rather than having to adhere to a pre-set schedule. This has produced positive results including improved appetites and weight gain, a reduction in resistive-to-care behaviors and a reduced need for nutritional supplements.

As another example, Perham Living has become a place that residents’ loved ones enjoy visiting.

“Years ago, nobody wanted to visit the nursing home, let alone eat a meal here,” said Krumwiede. “This year, we had more than 60 family members here at the holidays. That speaks volumes.”

Relationships between the staff and residents have changed and grown since the adoption of the patient-centered care model, the leadership team members said. With each staff member working primarily in one ‘household’ at Perham Living, they get to know the residents they work with very well, and the residents come to view them as friends and family.

Staff members are all considered “universal workers,” the leadership team explained, with everyone pitching in and helping out whenever help is needed – and their No. 1 job is always to do what’s best for the residents. This has led not only to greater resident satisfaction, but also greater job satisfaction and worker retention, with many employees from 10 years ago still on staff today.

The changes to the care model were incorporated into the design of the new Perham Living building when it was remodeled and an addition was put on about 10 years ago. Kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, fireplaces, laundry, porches and other gathering spaces and homey touches were built into all six households.

“This is a community,” said Marnie Ammons, director of nursing. “This is the residents’ home. They’re not living where we work, we’re working where they live. That’s what it all comes down to.”

According to the leadership team, Perham Living’s recent patient satisfaction surveys, five-star rating and U.S. News & World Report ranking are simply further evidence of the nursing home’s success.

“These kinds of things just help to show that we really do care,” said Household Coordinator Pam Nelson.

U.S. News & World Report’s list of “Best Nursing Homes 2014” highlights the top nursing homes in every state, covering almost 16,000 nursing homes nationwide. The list is available online at

To create the list, U.S. News drew on data from Nursing Home Compare, a program run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, awarding the “Best Nursing Homes” designation to facilities that recently earned the agency’s highest overall rating of five stars.

A press release from U.S. News & World Report states that the share of nursing homes with a five-star rating reached 25 percent in 2014, up sharply from about 19 percent last year. California has the most five-star-nursing homes, followed by Florida, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

“The rising number of five-star homes is encouraging,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News health rankings editor, in the release. “It speaks to care that is steadily becoming more skilled and compassionate.”

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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