A senior care home operated solely and operated by a husband and a wife is not only working towards impacting the lives of its patients but also alleviating the stress of their families.
Operated by caregivers Dirk and Cathy LaCourse, Sunset Ridge is located at 7163 N. Pomona Road, and opened in January after the LaCourses purchased the property and renovated the ins and outs of the home. The home consists of nine bedrooms, three bathrooms, a TV room, a kitchen and a patio.
The idea to start a care home came when Dirk’s mother told him “if you’re going to do something, make sure it’s a home that I want to go to.”
Though their reach in caregiving is regulated and guided by the state, they cover the vast majority of services located at a regular assisted living home: providing physical disability support, care for dementia patients and mental exercises.
“My wife and I are both very compassionate people, we feel we have a special connection with the elderly,” Dirk said. “We look at it as an honor to be able to take care of them.”
Sunset Ridge also receives resident checkups from nurse practitioner/medical management teams.
The youngest patient currently living at Sunset Ridge is 77 and the oldest is 93.
According to Dirk, the latter is considered something of a coach around the house.
“She gets the guys together and tells them ‘get up for a walk with me,’” he said.
Every day, patients indulge in home-cooked meals that strictly follow dietary plans. Among her other titles, Cathy is the main chef of the home.
Dirk believes one of the main reasons why patients are choosing to live at Sunset Ridge is the facility’s resemblance to an actual home. Furthermore, the residents have more freedom than they would in some larger facilities.
“We let them dictate what their day is going to be like,” Cathy added. “If they want to sleep in a little bit, they are allowed to.”
Sunset Ridge also takes pride in the affordability that is available for their patients and families.
“Many ask us, ‘Once you get going, you’re probably going to raise your prices, right?’” Dirk said. “We are just trying to give people the best of both worlds.”
Arizona is a favorite retirement destination for many. The desert, the weather and the low cost of living are the perfect combo for seniors. Arizona is also one of the few states in the country that gives tax breaks to seniors receiving a social security check every month.
While most assisted living communities encompass a wide range of amenities in their rates, the rates depend on the exact care that is being provided and to what extent. In Arizona, the monthly rate in assisted living is roughly $3,500 a month with care and amenities included. For an elder requiring more care and resources, that monthly rate may increase.
Like Arizona, Florida is also a state with similar tax breaks for the elderly, but the question of whether the care resembles the one seen here is a mystery.
Scott Tompkins expressed the difficult issues he experienced when placing his mother at a care home in Florida. On the other hand, his father, Robert Tompkins, 85, has become a new person since being at Sunset Ridge.
Before moving into the house, his father experienced severe depression and a decline in his health.
“He wasn’t doing good at all,” Tompkins said. “Just waiting to die basically.”
After only a matter of months his father has seen marked improvements due to the strong relationship between the owners and the patients. Tompkins added that he knows his father is not just another number at a care home.
“I wasn’t just going to place dad wherever and just leave him alone. I have to be able to sleep at night knowing that my dad is being taken care of,” Tompkins said. “[My dad] being at Sunset Ridge, I can sleep at night.”
Vianney Cardenas is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.