Cottages of Lake St. Louis
Location: St. Charles, MO
Industry: Skilled Nursing Community
Al Beamer is primarily focused on one thing- doing good.
Beamer, CEO, Cottages of Lake St. Louis, a skilled nursing community, said that “doing good” relates to all aspects of his business.
He had seen the large, old, institutional models with long hallways of elders crammed 2 or more in a room and giant dining rooms aimed at scale and efficiency, but feeling, “like a warehouse of souls.”
Identifying a substantial need in the region for skilled nursing that engaged and honored each person, Beamer developed Cottages of Lake St. Louis. a new format for skilled nursing with only 10 people in each Cottage. Each elder has his/her own private room with its own bathroom. Each Cottage has a full kitchen, dining area, laundry room, and hearth room with a fireplace that leads to a beautiful patio/garden.
From early stages, he focused on developing a competent, caring team of staff members, and realizing that how the owners and managers treat the staff members is reflected in how they treat the elders and families.
“We had to earn their trust because many, particularly nurse aides, had been treated unfairly as the bottom rung of the company hierarchy in previous employer-employee relationships,” Beamer said.
As a result, he said they responded with better, happier engagement with the elders, leading to measurably better healthcare outcomes and satisfaction.
Beamer said he learned the business in a hurry, while managing through cash flow problems, accepted the advice of many advisors, and has felt that he has had, “an angel on my shoulder through the whole journey.” When seemingly insurmountable problems appeared and near-miraculous solutions were found, he knew he was on the right track.
The goals of Cottages are Real Home, Meaningful Life, and Empowered Staff. They provide both short-term rehabilitation and therapy, typically for those needing a few weeks of therapy after a hospital stay. They also offer medium-term care for those who need to extend their rehabilitation and long-term care and dementia care for those who need 24-hour assistance and care. Staff members in Cottages usually work in one cottage or set of cottages, so they get to know the elders and the elders form a relationship and bond with them.
Though his owner/CEO position does not require daily hands-on work at Cottages, Beamer typically visits new elders within a couple days after they move in to make sure they are feeling comfortable. Additionally, Beamer engages with the broader community through speaking at dozens of Rotary Club, Lions Club, Optimist Club, and other church and community groups about dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, from a non-clinical view.
As for the future, Beamer intends to develop more in the St. Louis region and consult with developers outside St. Louis, to see that this small home- private room- private bathroom- engaged staff model becomes available to many more elders and families.
“Keeping elders safe and comfortable while they make choices and lead a meaningful life is my highest purpose and best honor,” he said. “It’s the best part of ‘doing good.’”
Al's favorite hobby is running. He has run 14 marathons.