New owner expects senior residents will thrive by having choices
When Washington Heights senior residential facility in Grafton closed this summer, it presented an unexpected opportunity for Kathryn Tocco.
Last month, Tocco got approval from the state to reopen the community-based residential facility at 1515 Washington St.
Tocco purchased the building, which is across the street from St. Joseph Catholic Church, with her husband Nick.
“The building was a mess. We had to re-do the floors and drywall, and hauled five dumpsters of junk out of the basement,” she said.
Tocco has renamed the eight-unit CBRF Rosewood Manor, a tribute to her grandmother, Rose LaFave, who decades ago founded the teen center Journey House in Milwaukee.
Tocco has cared for senior citizens for 15 years, including the past four years as manager of Serenity Homes of Grafton. That facility recently changed hands and is now known as Stone Haven.
“I always wanted to own a CBRF and run it the way I think is best, not getting bogged down in red tape and corporate policies,” Tocco said.
She said tailoring care to meet the needs of the residents is her top priority.
“We call it ‘care on your terms.’ It comes down to honoring and respecting the voice of the residents,” she said.
“I’ve never understood facilities that dictate the schedules of their residents. Say someone has worked all their life on third shift. What makes it right for us to say, ‘You have to be in bed by 10 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m.’? They aren’t going to be happy and that will affect their quality of life.”
Tocco said her residents will not have schedules they must follow or restrictions they must live by.
“The way I look at it, if we are truly creating a home-like setting, it makes no sense to set things like visiting hours. Family members should feel free to come and visit whenever they can, 24/7,” Tocco said.
Residents will be invited to decorate their rooms any way they want, a sentiment that is reflected in the many family artifacts Tocco has brought in to decorate the shared living space of the facility.
“Whenever possible, we want to encourage residents to maintain the highest level of independence,” she said.
However, a continuum of care will be provided — including three home-cooked meals a day, weekly housekeeping and laundry service and complete medication management. Specialized care can also be arranged for those with dementia.
There will also be in-house access to doctors, podiatrists and physical, speech and occupational therapists.
A staff of nine will provide around-the-clock monitoring of the facility, which Tocco said will be augmented by a strong volunteer program.
She said she hopes Scout groups and nearby schools give the residents a steady exposure to young blood.
One of the projects likely to benefit from that diversity of care is a large garden intended for the south side of the property.
“Raised garden beds are going to be created, and hopefully we will be able to incorporate our harvest into fresh vegetables and fruits we will serve in our meals,” Tocco said.
She said the facility will be operated as a chemical-free environment, using natural products whenever possible.
The lengthy review process by the state has meant the facility wasn’t cleared for operation until just two weeks ago, at a time when most families are more focused on the holidays than in finding new accommodations for their loved ones.
“I expect we will be at full occupancy by mid-January,” Tocco said.
Visitors are invited to attend a ribbon-cutting and open house at the facility from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17.