Tucked among the trees and lakes of a historic Edina neighborhood sits yet another immaculate property. But what might look like a typical single family Edina home on the outside is bustling with a different sort of activity on the inside.
The table is set with a delicious, family-style meal, and a handful of people help themselves to breakfast. The lively chatter and sound of flatware against plates rouses those who tend to sleep later. One person reads the newspaper aloud while discussing with two others the headlines of the day. An early bird who’s finished breakfast clears his place and asks if anyone wants to join him for morning exercises as he steadies himself for a set of modified push-ups against the kitchen countertop. A fifth resident joins the group, visibly tired but not wanting to miss out on the action around the breakfast table. It feels like a family vacation at the cabin—structured, but loose; the day swelling with the promise of fun.
All of the above happens with the help of home health aides who enthusiastically participate, ensuring that these residents, most in their twilight years and all with advanced medical diagnoses, are staying safe while being fulfilled. This is a typical morning in an English Rose Suite.
What started in 1997 as one woman’s private home on Blake Road has since grown into a collection of five homes, all within a mile and a half of one another, offering personalized attention for residents requiring 24/7 care.
“The original vision was simple,” explains owner and CEO Joshua Wert. “Provide a true home-like experience for individuals affected by Alzheimer’s or other complex medical conditions.”
Ever since, English Rose has provided a level of care that is in direct opposition to the impersonal, institutionalized, and strictly medicalized model that is common in so many other care facilities.
Vicki Martini, who recently retired as Director of Operations after a 19-year career with English Rose, explains: “We are a half medical and a half social model, intertwined together. Our in-house nursing team ensures that our residents receive the highest degree of medical care. But for each resident, what we really need to know is their life story — their purpose and their joy — in order to optimize their wellbeing.”
Adds Wert, “Our care approach recognizes that every individual, regardless of their cognitive faculties, deserves to live a life of dignity, surrounded by compassion and love.”
This commitment to holistic care has been a constant at English Rose for the last 25 years.
What sets English Rose apart is its unique approach to wellbeing, which has been internally developed and refined over the last two decades. It is based on five modalities of wellbeing — purposeful, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual — which are personalized for each resident in his or her care plan.
What exactly does an English Rose care plan look like in action? Well, take Joe, for example. Joe loves woodworking, country-western music, and being outside on a warm day. A former educator, he still enjoys teaching others. He tends to be soft spoken, but the staff know that they can get him talking by bringing up his time in the military, world history, or the numerous degrees and certifications he’s earned over his lifetime.
These details and many more are documented in a plan that informs how the staff approach Joe’s care. Of course, they know the ins and outs of Joe’s medical needs. But unlike in other care facilities, English Rose staff are not there to just take care of Joe’s physical needs.
Joe’s plan was developed as a collaborative effort between the English Rose leadership team, Joe’s son Stephen, and Joe himself. “But it’s never a static document,” explains Tiffany Gomez, who has been with English Rose for 19 years and has served as its Administrator since 2011. “Care plans are updated on an ongoing basis to reflect a resident’s preferences over time and changing circumstances.”
It is this flexibility, willingness to experiment, and emphasis on the individual that is woven into the fabric of English Rose. Martini, who oversaw the transition of ownership when Joshua came on board, elaborates: “Our motto has always been: ‘whatever is best for the residents, do it!’ And Joshua is exactly the same way.”
In short, what has more recently been dubbed “person-centered care” has been practiced at English Rose since its inception, well before the phrase was in vogue or the notion was commonplace.
Wert, who purchased English Rose in 2020, brings vast organizational leadership experience that perfectly complements the organization’s expertise in providing care for people with cognitive or other impairments.
“Our reputation for innovation and excellence have been earned over time, and it is now part of the organization’s DNA,” explains Wert. “Prior owners perfected the care model over the course of the last 25 years. That is their legacy.”
“What I want the next 25 years to be about,” continues Wert, “is ensuring that English Rose becomes the employer of choice for the best caregivers in the field. We need to attract and retain the most talented and dedicated individuals out there.”
English Rose employs about 80 caregivers who are hired for their compassion, professionalism, and commitment to building strong interpersonal relationships with residents.
As Zach Parlier, Director of Team Member Development, will tell you, English Rose doesn’t hire just anyone. “It takes a very special person to work with people living with dementia. You can be a certified nursing assistant or clinically trained caregiver and still not have what it takes to succeed at English Rose.”
Because of its high standards and rigorous interview process, English Rose only hires a handful of caregivers out of the hundreds of applications it receives each month. A third of those hired don’t make it through the 40+ hours of classroom and infield training that is required before a new recruit is allowed to interact directly and independently with residents.
“It’s not easy to become a home health aide at English Rose,” explains Parlier. “But it’s worth it. That’s why most spend their entire caregiving career with us.”
Unlike at other care facilities, English Rose maintains an average staff-to-resident ratio of at least 1-to-3 and never operates short staffed. Caregivers receive ongoing training, may avail themselves of numerous career development opportunities, and are supported by one home manager and one primary nurse who are responsible for the wellbeing of no more than 12 residents.
In a field rampant with burnout, English Rose believes that it is paramount caregivers are well cared for themselves. “We have always treated staff like family, but Joshua has brought this to a whole new level,” explains Martini. “The elevated attention we provide our residents, he’s now doing for the staff.”
In addition to offering some of the highest pay in the industry, English Rose offers perks like free massages, pet insurance, discounted auto repair and access to loaner cars. “Just like the personalized care plans for our residents,” says Gomez, “our employee benefits are always evolving to better meet the needs of staff.”
In celebration of its 25-year anniversary, and to meet the growing care needs of the Twin Cities community, English Rose will soon open two new homes in Minnetonka, a caregiver training center in downtown Hopkins, and expand its home health care services for clients who want the English Rose experience in the comfort of their own homes.
“We want as many families as possible to benefit from our highly personal and professional approach to care,” explains Wert, “but our growth will be slow, by design, because we only hire the best caregivers, and they are hard to find.”
Wert knows that talented individuals are the foundation of English Rose. “Like our tagline says: at our core, English Rose is about exceptional people providing extraordinary care.”