GSN news Staff

A new player is getting ready to enter the growing assisted living industry in Gilbert, and this one offers a lifestyle based on a philosophy more commonly associated with schools.

Eyeing a July date for their certificate of occupancy, the owners of Eternal Spring of Gilbert expect that by September, they’ll have people living in their assisted living and memory care wings at 940 East Williams Field Road.

With an 80-bed, 59-unit assisted living facility and a 36-unit, 48-bed memory care wing, Eternal Spring is championing a lifestyle built on the Montessori philosophy – something that is more commonly associated with private and public charter schools.

For Eternal Spring, that philosophy translates into “supporting our residents’ ideas, choices, independence and empowering them to create a community that speaks to them with a staff that will “foster the natural spark within each individual by allowing forums for discussion, input and finally assisting in the details to make these ideas a reality regardless of deficits,” according to its website.

Weekly resident committees, a lifelong learning university and community service projects aim to “fill our residents’ days with a true with sense of purpose, contribution and belonging.”

“Montessori-Inspired methods are utilized at each of our communities,” the brochure notes, stressing the “individualized life enrichment programing” that gives residents “a sense of belonging and meaning and where loved ones are happy to visit.”

Through a partnership with the Center for Applied Research in Dementia, Eternal Spring touts its staff’s ability to get “a crucial glimpse into remaining skills often missed by traditional healthcare assessments.”

Executive Director Marcia Turner said the goal is to “keep our residents linked to resources and opportunities that will fulfill their needs and interests in the Gilbert area. Residents have many opportunities to participate in a variety of life-enriching activities and events to stimulate the mind, body and soul.”

Turner has been in senior care for more than 40 years, starting as a 14-year-old Candy Stripe volunteer at a geriatric center in Rochester, New York.

“It ignited my passion and I have been in the business ever since,”said Turner. “I was drawn to working with seniors as I lost my grandparents in my youth. It filled the void of not having my own grandparents.”

She stressed that it would be a mistake to associate assisted living with the notion of giving up anything.

“Assisted Living means giving nothing up and regaining a renewed sense of purpose-driven living, independence and privacy, compassionate care within your own apartment home and a dignified and meaningful lifestyle. We offer a 24-hour dedicated and caring team that is prepared to meet personalized needs and wants.”

Martin said owners Frontier Management have a long record in senior care.

“I am a strong believer it begins at the top,” she said. “Our CEO has very high gold standards. He is one of the few CEOs who actually takes the time to visit his communities. He started in this business at a young age – which I can certainly relate to – and has enthusiasm and passion which is highly contagious.”

But she also sees that the responsibilities for building a sense of community among residents “all starts with me.”

“I am a person who comes from the heart. I believe in doing the right thing – the right way – every day for my residents and family members. My own father had Alzheimer’s and had lived at my community. I thought I was a compassionate and empathetic  person, but once experiencing this disease firsthand as a daughter, I truly gained an even deeper understanding and a newfound level of compassion as to what the family members and caregivers experience.

“It was a journey that I can now share and help my family members.”

With about 100 employees, Eternal Spring has a social rather than medical model for the facility, though caregivers are on the premises around the clock and a nurse is on call 24/7.

She said Frontier picked Gilbert for its operation because of its national recognition as a safe community that is one of the best places to live in the nation.