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Napa Valley Senior Living creates home for residents

Napa Valley Senior Living creates home for residents

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Napa Valley Senior Living, a residential care home for the elderly, with two locations in Napa, has gained a reputation as a caring, comfortable and family-oriented business.

The company was founded in 2016 by owner Krystal Smith, who has a master of science in nursing.

Napa Valley Senior Living is home to six residents per house. Residents, who may experience memory loss, dementia and require around-the-clock care, are looked after by a total of 12 experienced caregiver employees.

Each home has a well-maintained garden, chickens and a piano. Visitors such as spouses, children and grandchildren are welcome throughout the day.

“We create a small, home-like environment where our staff really gets to know the residents individually. We tailor care to meet their needs,” said Smith.

Suzan Dawson, a caregiver at the business’s 3100 Hamilton St. home, said the environment is bright, loving and cheery.

“We have ice cream socials, volleyball with balloons and decorate for every season, including Halloween,” said Dawson.

Dawson said the staff works together as a “true team.”

“That way we can give the best that can be given to our residents,” said Dawson.

How one caregiver recognized anotherNapa Valley Senior Living’s first two locations, at 3100 Hamilton St. and 2025 Clay St., were formerly part of Hearts That Matter, a caregiving business founded by Kimberly Geis. In 2016, Geis decided she wanted to sell the business to someone else with a passion for elder care.

“I had several offers from corporations, all of which saw the purchase as a chance to add to their portfolio. I knew I wanted to have ‘one of my own’ for my special people. These special people loved me and appreciated everything I or others did for them,” said Geis.

Geis said Smith called because she saw the business was for sale. On the first call, the two women got along so well with her that Geis poured out her heart to Smith.

“When she told me that she wanted to be hands-on with the residents, I knew she was the person I needed,” said Geis.

In 2019, Geis and Smith formed A Partner in Caring, a separate, licensed in-home care-giving business that is also based in Napa.

In her first two and a half years operating Napa Valley Senior Living, Smith saw the wait list grow to the extent that she soon expects to open a third house at 1460 Sherman Ave. The newest property is currently undergoing renovations to meet the needs of future residents.

Smith said she has had a passion for elder care since her early days as a nurse.

“I’m originally from Iowa, and my first nursing job was at Mercy Hospital hospital in a suburb of Minneapolis. I quickly found myself drawn to caring for the elderly and their families. Later, I got a master’s in nursing education from Bethel University in St. Paul. I came to California in 2011 after a sales and marketing promotion with Genentech,” said Smith.

Smith and her husband, who also worked for Genentech (and still does) became part-time residents of Napa in 2013. In 2016, on their first sabbaticals with Genentech, the couple chose to spend most of their time in Napa.

“We were renovating a fixer-upper in (the) Alta Heights (neighborhood) and envisioned staying full-time. I discovered Hearts That Matter for sale through an online search and reached out to (Kimberly). We met for lunch and the rest is history,” said Smith.

What it takes to

be a caregiverSmith said informed discussions with a resident and family as to whether to have a potential resident enter full-time care.

“Typically, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted- living facilities. Considering a potential resident involves meeting them and their family. If the resident is (an) appropriate (fit) for assisted living, we work together to develop a plan. (That will) make the move as easy as possible,” said Smith.

Smith said she and the staff consider how new residents will be compatible with current caregivers and residents.

“Residents often build relationships with each other. They can get really close. We lead senior activities with them. (This allows us) to tailor our grocery list and menu to what they like,” said Smith.

Smith and her husband, who together have five children, and Smith’s Pomeranian Lulu, often visit the homes.

“My husband plays guitar. I sing and play piano. It makes my day when residents decide to sing along. Several of my kids like to come visit with us. We also invite volunteers to come play music,” said Smith.

What families like about the care

Jim Roberts, whose wife is a resident at one of the houses, said he appreciates how much the facilities open their doors to guests.

“I see my dear wife every day after lunch. They really look after her. In the afternoon, we sit in the shade and watch the flowers and trees together,” said Roberts.

Diane Benfield, whose father Daniel Lucchesi was recently a resident, said the facility made her father comfortable.

“His security and care were my two primary concerns,” said Benfield.

Benfield said one of the reasons she chose Napa Valley Senior Living because Smith is “very warm and very giving.”

“She knows every resident by name. They always bond well to her. In addition, she’s in constant contact with us,” said Benfield.

Laura Meister, whose mother is a resident, picked Napa Valley Senior Living because her father lived at the Clay Street house previously.

“The activity level can be energizing for seniors. They play simple games and offer nutritious and balanced meals. It’s homey and conveniently located close to town,” said Meister.

Monica Garcia, who works as a caregiver for the company, said it is inspirational to help people who need care.

“It makes you feel good that you can be there for them. One resident has been there for about nine years. When I see her doing well, it makes me feel like what I’m doing to care for her is working,” said Garcia.

Dawson said the key to offering excellent care is being patient and understanding.

“Be aware of the little things, such as whether they’re not drinking as much fluid or seem more at risk of falling. They don’t always ask for things. Often you need to offer them,” said Dawson.

Dawson said making residents happy can be as easy as listening to a story. “They like to talk about their past, when they were younger. They like to get hugs,” said Dawson.

Dawson, who worked as an in-home caregiver for her brother before he passed away, said the residents’ time at the homes “is special for them and us.”

“We come into this world vulnerable and needing lots of care. We go out the same way. It’s an honor to walk with our residents on the end of their journey,” said Dawson.

For more information, call 707-312-2971, or visit napavalleyseniorliving.org.

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