A nurse with a heart for geriatric care has transformed her former Kennewick home into an adult family home, realizing a longtime dream and goal that took shape after losing her grandfather.
Called Cherry Creek Adult Family Home, the single-family house built in 2018 in the Cherry Creek Estates neighborhood east of Canyon Lakes has been converted to accommodate six adult residents.
LeAnn Touchette, owner/administrator and resident manager, said the facility bridges the gap between long-term care and housing options for ailing family members who need more care than assisted living can provide, but who aren’t ready for the nursing home.
Most residents will share a bedroom with one roommate in the well-appointed 2,590-square-foot home and have free use of the house’s living areas, landscaped yard and covered patio. Private room options are available.
Though not the first facility of its kind in the Tri-Cities, Cherry Creek plans to offer best-in-class service. Touchette, a registered nurse, works in outpatient procedures at Trios. Prior to that, she worked as a nursing assistant providing one-on-one in-home health care.
“Cherry Creek will be set apart from other adult family homes because of the focus on building personal connections with each resident,” she said.
Four full-time and two part-time caregivers will be employed, in addition to Touchette. The staff-to-resident ratio will always be 1-to-6 or better, compared to 1-to-50 in assisted living facilities, Touchette said.
“I want families to come tour my home and leave here with a sense of peace, knowing that their loved one will be taken care of the way they would want them to be. My goal is to give members of the geriatric population the respect, care, and attention that they deserve in order to make this difficult situation in their lives, and the lives of their families, easier,” Touchette said.
Grandpa encourages dreams
As an adolescent, Touchette talked about going to school to become a nurse. She said her grandfather, with whom she was very close growing up, encouraged her dreams.
“We would go to church on Sundays then go back to his house and play cards and then he would take me shopping,” she recalled.
“We shared a love for horse racing and would watch the races at Sun Downs together. Every year we made sure to tune into the Kentucky Derby … When I turned 16, we traveled to Nebraska and Wisconsin together to visit family. We had a wonderful relationship and he meant the world to me,” she said.
Touchette’s grandfather later would inspire her to become a nurse in an unexpected way.
In 2010, he was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rapid onset degenerative brain disorder that is extremely rare, incurable and ultimately leads to death.
“He went from being a full-time working electrician to being extremely confused. This all seemed to happen overnight. He was no longer able to live on his own or work,” she said.
Her family began looking into care facilities, but their first choices had no openings. They eventually settled on an assisted living facility, but “he was only able to be there for a couple of days because he was so confused and needed more care than they could provide,” Touchette said.
Touchette and her sister took turns caring for their grandfather in their own homes until they could find a more appropriate facility. He died within a few months of his diagnosis.
“After going through this experience and losing my grandpa, I knew one day I wanted to become a nurse and own a care facility for the geriatric population,” Touchette said.
In 2017, she realized that ambition, graduating with an associate degree in nursing.
“Now my dream is to own and operate a few of these adult family homes that are specific to each population such as dementia, mental health, and developmentally delayed,” she said.
Cherry Creek’s mission
Cherry Creek will house residents of varying ages and health needs — there are no age restrictions and “no specific criteria for living at Cherry Creek,” she said. The facility also can accommodate hospice patients.
Touchette has received additional certifications in the areas of dementia and mental health, and is working on obtaining certification for the care of those who are developmentally delayed.
She said all staff will be trained in these areas as well.
Cherry Creek is scheduled to open by the end of September or early October, pending a final inspection by the state, Touchette said.
In the meantime, she has begun accepting resident applications and showing the house to prospective residents and their families.
Touchette and her family previously lived in the single-story home with a loft — which will serve as the resident manager’s suite — until she realized its potential for easy conversion into an adult family home.
The home features a wide-open floor plan, extra-wide hallways, three-foot wide interior doors, and no steps into the house, making it easy for residents with walkers or wheelchairs to move about.
“There were minimal conversions that had to be done to convert this home,” she said. “The biggest things were the bathrooms. My husband converted the bathrooms with handrails and grab bars and also modified the showers.
He took out an existing bathtub/shower insert and put in a shower that’s wheelchair accessible.”
There will be staff on hand at all times to assist with the activities of daily living, including diabetic care, tube feedings, wound care and more. A certified nurse will be on-call 24 hours per day in addition to an emergency call system.
Services include well-balanced, home-cooked meals, laundry service, pet therapy, activities such as arts and crafts, puzzles, memory games, chair exercises, bingo, and, after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, live music for events such as holidays and celebrations.
“The geriatric population loves live music and bands,” Touchette said. “They’re dancing and singing along, and they just come alive. It’s something I’ve always wanted in my facility.”
Looking ahead, Touchette said that she has other properties lined up for the building of future adult family homes, and hopes to one day build a large facility for hospice residents too, though she says it all remains to be seen in light of current events.
“I’m really excited to start this journey and meet all of my future residents and their families. This is the career I was designed for and I can’t wait to connect with people and show my home and passion to the Tri Cities community,” Touchette said, adding, “I look forward to making a difference in the lives of seniors in their final years because they deserve it.”
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