BridgeWater in the News

Read our latest article in Mankato Magazines 'Living 55+' special section that published February 2017 highlighting our new Janesville, MN location.


Falcons of BridgeWater, Story by Cliff Coy (full story)

As legend has it there once was a king who spent his nights eating and drinking with his ministers. Because of this he ended up neglecting his people. He had a hunting falcon and her name was Shahbaz. One night while she was out hunting with the king for the food for his nightly feast the falcon saw a man who was being chased by thieves. Shahbaz felt compassion for this man and chased away the thieves and protected him against a mountain lion that night. After the fight she returned to the king without her nightly catch. The king was furious and decided to try again the following night.

When Shahbaz was released for the hunt that night she saw the same man and this time he was lost, so she gave him water, captured food for him, and started a fire with her beak. When she returned to the king he was again furious. But she told him her tale of watching over this man and the king decided to change his ways. He became a Royal Falcon Trainer and his flock of falcons that watched over and cared for his people were named after the original Shahbaz.

It is with this principle that The Green House Project was born. Green House homes are a new way to think about elder care. The homes themselves are much more like a typical house instead of the larger care centers that resemble hospitals that we are used to in the area. And the houses and staff are made to conform to the schedules and lifestyles of the residents living in them instead of the other way around like most traditional homes.

One such Green House home is coming to the area and is currently under construction in Janesville. The BridgeWater home will have two independent floors for residents to live on with a maximum of twelve residents per floor. Each floor will have their own teams of healthcare professionals as well as staff members and will be manned with eight hour shifts 24/7.  BridgeWater Janesville is scheduled to open in late April.

The homes even have their own teams of Shahbaz, these people are universal healthcare employees and are responsible for the cooking, cleaning, laundry, activities and any other functions inside of the homes that are not skilled nursing care.

“The Shahbaz really get to know the elders really close by providing all of those different services,” said Brooke Olson the Director of Operations for BridgeWater. So they have the ability to see if there are any changes in behavior  of the residents that might be a trigger of something wrong.

As well as Shahbaz, they also employ skilled nurses that are there to take care of any medical needs the residents have.

“We will primarily be working with elders who are at a higher need for care, said Brooke. “So it could be someone who needs help with medication management and administration, dressing, grooming, feeding, diabetics. Pretty high care and that is what takes us into the skilled nursing piece which is typically until end of life care. So we can do everything from the higher assisted living, memory care all the way to end of life care.” When you walk into the home you will see that it is very much designed like a home. The architectural layout had to follow the Green House Projects guidelines as well as get signed off by them before it could be built.

When you walk inside there are twelve suites that are on the perimeter of the building and the inside part of the house is like a regular home with a hearth area. It includes an open dining room where  everyone sits together for meals including the staff, an open kitchen that isn’t closed off at night so the elders can watch all the food being made, or they can participate in the making of the food if it’s safe and sanitary to do so. There is also a sun room, whirlpool, and a salon.

“Nothing looks like it’s a business or nursing or care facility, it’s very much home like,” said Brooke. “The only difference is that the house will be locked at all times to ensure that those elders with memory care needs can’t just up and leave. But those that don’t have memory care needs will be given a private code or fob to come and go as they please, whereas the memory care folks would not have that so that they remain safe and secure in the home.”

Facilities like BridgeWater are a lot more calm and quiet than other higher living care facilities. When you walk in you may be shocked to find how quiet it is, especially if it is not around an activity or meal time. It is that way because the facilities don’t have alarms that go off.  

“If somebody pulls an alarm chord or pushes a button it rings to a smartphone that all of our staff carry on them that tells them the specific details about who needs help in what room,” said Brooke. “Same thing goes with our fall pads, so if someone is prone to falling they have an alarm pad underneath them so when they start moving it will alert the phone, this way there is no loud alarm that goes off that may startle them into actually falling.”

“There is much more attention to each individual elder with this method and focuses more on their specific needs instead of generalizing them. I think it’s important to tailor things to their needs so they still feel important and not forgotten,” said Emily Brekke, the Housing Manager of BridgeWater Janesville. “I think it’s important, our elders are huge contributors to our society and I think it’s important to offer them the best care available. I think that this model does that, it brings in meaningful relationships and just makes their days as bright as they can be.”


The City of Hanover has approved the site plan for Greenhouse Project Assisted Living.

Click here to visit their site.

Hanover breaks ground for senior assisted living

By Sun News Press, Published July 14, 2016

After more than four years, construction on the Green House Project senior assisted living houses has begun. A groundbreaking ceremony on the 6.5 acre site was Friday, July 1. The project is located just off Settlers Lane in the Bridges of Hanover. From left are resident Krysta Mitchell, Bridges of Hanover resident Gina Jamison, resident Brandon Vetsch, I-94 West Chamber of Commerce member Didi Hartley, I-94 West Chamber of Commerce member Sheila Zachman, resident and Senior Center representative Claudia Pingree, I-94 West Chamber of Commerce member Jaimie Larson, Hanover Park Board member Abby Peterson, EDA board member Joe Kaul, resident Linda Hennessey, former EDA member Jim Hennessey, Mayor Chris Kauffman, Bradford Development representative Brad Bass, Bradford Development representative Heather Bass, Executive Director of the new home Laura Butler, Director of Operations for Green House projects Brooke Olson, Development Coordinator for Bradford Development Melissa Nelson and City Administrator Brian Hagen. The building will consist of two separate houses where 24-hour care will be provided. Each of the ten to twelve residents in each house will have their own bedroom and bathroom and share living spaces. The homes will employ more than 30 full and part-time nurses and nursing assistants. The building is expected to be completed by May of next year. (Courtesy of Wright County Journal-Press)

Hanover’s BridgeWater aims to ‘reinvent eldercare’

Published by Press&News February 24, 2017

A longtime goal of the Hanover City Council is about to become reality: establishing the city’s first senior housing facility.

The BridgeWater project is located on the Hennepin County side of the city, on Settlers Lane just off 109th Avenue.

Director of Operations Brooke Olson said the 24 residences on two home floors will include memory care, skilled nursing care and assisted living.

“The first residents are moving in March 6,” she said.

BridgeWater offers a new “culture change” in senior living based on the Green House movement.

BridgeWater touts Green House as the most natural way of:

Caring — Nurtures elders in a circle of care; enables deep relationships between elders and caregivers; and turns the institutional organizational chart upside down.

Living — Provides a home for 12 people, with private room/baths, that harmonizes with the neighboring community; creates a real home environment with an open kitchen, great room, and easy access to the outdoors; and meets federal and state licensing requirements.

Thriving — Respects flexible routines, personal preferences nurtures a familial experience around a common dining table; welcomes friends and family members; and encourages personal growth and enables elders to continue to pursue their interests and passions.

“This national model of care returns control, dignity, and a sense of well being to elders, their families and direct care staff,” Olson said. “Elders live in real homes where individuality and choice are honored, quality care is a priority, and people have more satisfying and meaningful lives.”

Olson said BridgeWater steps away from the institutional settings found in traditional nursing homes and provides “a real home with quality care.”

With a maximum of 12 elders in each home, it aims to guarantee personal attention and meaningful relationships.

“Elders have personal suites, allowing them to maintain privacy and dignity, and luxury amenities so they can enjoy the finer things in life,” Olson said.

Each home on the two floors operates independently and with its own staff members. “The point is for our employees to know their elders deeply,” Olson said.

Each floor has a common living area, kitchen, sky room, spa bath and other amenities, with an “open dining” concept.

There are 30 total staff members that do elder care, home making care, cooking, cleaning, laundry and activities, as well as a clinical support team and registered nurse.

“Elders in a Green House home lead a lifestyle that they choose, so we bring activities and meaningful engagement right into the home,” Olson said.

BridgeWater grand opening is planned for Thursday, March 2, from 2 to 6 p.m.