Dorothy and Toto had it right—there’s no place like home.
But when a loved one needs more help than they can manage on their own, assisted-care facilities can be a close second.
TenderNest Assisted Living originally opened a single assisted-living house in Laurel in 1998. Since that time, TenderNest has expanded to include two houses in Laurel, and seven houses at 4001 Parkhill Dr. in Billings.
Business owner Randy Swenson likes the combination of operating a family-run business that serves the elderly. The business employs 89, including Swenson’s daughter, sons and son-in-law, giving TenderNest a unique distinction in the industry.
“We are truly committed to providing excellent care in a loving and personalized environment,” he said. “We really strive to do it right—to deliver a quality service at a price that makes sense, and to be part of this community. We live here, we work here.”
TenderNest offers personalized care, three home-cooked meals daily, laundry and daily housekeeping, bathing and medication assistance and appointment coordination along with activities and outings for their residents.
“Assisted living is for those who need help with daily activities like grooming, dressing, cooking, eating and their medications,” said general manager Nate Swenson, “We also offer specialized memory care for those dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Controlled growth is the goal of every business. TenderNest created a master plan when the original Billings houses were built in 2002-2004. Although they made some modifications since that time, that forethought enabled the last two phases to be built relatively seamlessly.
“For the most part it has been a really smooth process,” said Swenson. “We kept the same builder and most of the same contractors, so they are familiar with the plans.”
However, by listening to their residents and employees, Swenson did implement a few adjustments.
“Access in and out of a bathtub can be difficult, so we added a mobility tub that the residents really like,” he said.
In addition, each house has an extra room—in one house it might be a salon, in another it might be a game room. With six (and soon-to-be-seven) houses on the Billings campus, residents have access to the services of each house.
“We also enlarged the dining area to make it more spacious and comfortable,” noted Swenson. “When extended family visits, it might get a bit squished, but we are like a family and we make it work. I think that’s part of the charm of TenderNest—we are small, intimate and family-oriented.”
It’s not uncommon for employees to know the name of each resident.
When it comes to needing other services, Swenson likes to work with other local small business. Eggart Engineering and Construction (EEC) completed the remodel of the TenderNest properties in Laurel, so EEC was a natural choice when Swenson was seeking a designer and general contractor for the Billings’ location.
“We had a relationship with them, and we work well together,” said Swenson. “This is our ninth joint project. If there’s ever an issue, they address it and solve it quickly.”
EEC completes both design and general contracting in-house, so that streamlines the projects—an advantage that appeals to Swenson.
“That’s our niche,” said Quentin Eggart, owner of EEC. “We really are the only company who does that without ‘coop-ing’ the project.”
When Eggart considers all the TenderNest properties, one aspect stands out.
“I really appreciate and respect that Randy asks for higher-end finishes in the house,” he said. “He installs quality materials because he wants the residents to feel comfortable, to feel at home, and I think he accomplishes that.”
Todd Brownson, of Brownson Construction, noted that the knotty alder, solid doors, millwork, crown molding and dining-area wainscoting give the assisted living facility a more “homey” feeling.
“It’s a rich finish, a warm feeling,” said Brownson. “I think it gives a more personal feeling to those who are moving away from where they have lived for years—it’s not so stale and cold.”
That rich feeling continued with custom cabinets and vanities in the kitchen and residents’ rooms, crafted by Ultimate Custom Cabinets.
The final house of TenderNest’s Phase 4 will be finished this fall. Swenson noted that the campus has more space but will remain as it is for now, until the time is right. Other future plans include a four-plex, independent living facility in Laurel and the potential for expansion in Billings Heights, as the community’s needs change.