Wells’ Shepherd’s Inn: A place to call home
What started back in 1987 as a mere outreach program for seniors by the Covenant Life Church in the Wells area has now become one of Wells’ most beloved senior living estates. Many know the repurposed John Deere Implement dealership site known as the Shepherd’s Inn.
Recently, the Shepherd’s Inn welcomed a new manager, but she has a familiar face. Lifelong resident of Wells and co-owner of The Bean, Patricia Schuster, has decided to fill the shoes of manager for the senior assisted living facility.
“I only just started in July,” admits Schuster. “But I used to work here as a teenager, and my mother was also an employee at The Shepherd’s Inn. Whenever I look through old documents, I can still find her handwriting in the notes.”
At one point, Schuster’s mother even took some of her own daughter’s advice by getting a walk-in cooler put into the facility.
“I remember when I was working as a young girl and we had a couple of chest freezers and a few refrigerators to contain all of the food for the residents, and I said, ‘Mom, you should get a walk-in freezer,’ and once I came back to the area after living elsewhere, I saw she took me up on my suggestion.”
Schuster is taking over for Steven Lorenz, who began his managing of the facility in 2006. She joins an assisting staff of five, and a cooking staff of five that help the 20 residents with all of their meals, activities, and care.
Laura Gephart is the assistant manager of the facility, and is also a CNA and TMA, and has worked at The Shepherd’s Inn for the past 22 years.
“I think what really sets us apart from other assisted living facilities is that we truly try to make everything feel like home here,” says Gephart. “We encourage the residents to decorate their rooms like home, we sit together at meal times, and we all know each other very, very well.”
Residents at The Shepherd’s Inn have access to an RPN and LPN during the day, with on-call care 24-7, laundry, hair care, activities both indoor and outdoor as well as meals made by loving hands.
The medical staff is very personable, says Schuster. They work to customize individual care plans for each resident to address their specific needs.
Both single and couples rooms are available, though the couples rooms usually have a waiting list of availability. There are also rooms with a private bathroom, and rooms that share a restroom facility with another resident.
And entertainment? There is no shortfall of things to do at The Shepherd’s Inn.
“We certainly enjoy our Bingo here,” laughs Schuster. “We have had singers of all kinds come to entertain us, we’ve had painting classes, exercise activities, devotions and church services. Members of other parishes in the area come to visit with the residents, as well. The Wells Card Club comes to visit us frequently as well; that’s a huge hit with our residents.”
And if that isn’t enough, the facility also has a puzzle room with an indoor aviary. Birds of a wide array of color fill a vast cage amidst the puzzles in order to fill the air with their little warbling songs.
Residents are not secluded to just their facility either, says Schuster.
“We go on field trips all the time,” she says. “We’ve visited the Wells Depot Museum, we’ve gone shopping in the downtown area, and we even recently went to the new food truck, Driving Delicious, to have some malts and shakes.”
There is another aspect to The Shepherd’s Inn that keeps the residents young at heart, and it is the little hearts of the adjoining Little Lambs daycare who visit the residents.
“The Little Lambs come and sing for residents’ birthdays and read with them and keep them engaged,” says Schuster. “It really is a sweet treat to see them interact with one another.”
And speaking of birthdays, The Shepherd’s Inn pulls out all of the stops for any resident celebrating their birthday. One resident, Jan Carlson, was celebrating her birthday while the Faribault County Register visited the Inn.
“Jan gets to not only pick what meal she would like to have for dinner, but she also gets to pick her cake,” says Schuster. “Tonight she picked an angel food cake with strawberry topping and whipped cream. We also decorate the residents’ room with celebratory decor.”
But for Schuster and the entire staff at The Shepherd’s Inn, it’s not just the little things that make this place feel like home, it’s the love and the laughter that everyone shares within this loving home.
“When you usually take a parent or relative to a care facility, there is sometimes a decline in their health or demeanor due to the change,” says Gephart. “But here, our residents perk up and improve quite quickly and that is because of our strong community. These residents are not alone in their homes anymore, they are part of a whole. It’s beautiful to see.”
Gephart shared that recently, one resident on short-term care was able to go back to their own home after staying at The Shepherd’s Inn for a while, and upon returning home, kept asking their daughter when they would be returning to the Inn.
“They missed the fellowship,” says Gephart. “They missed having things to do everyday and people to interact with, and I think that’s the greatest thing we provide here purpose. And laughter lots, and lots of laughter.”
“There is a lot of family togetherness here,” says Schuster. “And that’s what we aim for longevity in life and joy all along the way through their golden years. We work to take care of these beautiful souls as long as we can.”
Schuster says that there are hospice and homehealth options available for residents who are in need of additional care during their return to Christ’s arms, and the staff works with families to provide that special care.
For families interested in touring the facility, Schuster says everyone is welcome to come take a look, enjoy a meal, and get a feel for their facility.
“Give us a call. We go through an assessment process, and we can get a residential process going,” says Schuster. “If anyone is in need of human services during their senior years, we can also help with that process. It’s something families should certainly consider before winter comes. We provide a team of professionals to achieve all aspects of elderly care.”