In attempting to locate appropriate facilities for several senior family members, we have become quite familiar with Sunrise- a nationwide network of Senior Care facilities With a handful of locations in the Chicago area. While each Sunrise we've seen has its unique character, there is a very obvious formula that they attempt to follow. Physical location aside, how well a given facility follows the corporate guidelines would seem to be the most important difference between the facilities.
This relatively small (68 residents) location is quite new, and located in a very active and well-kept Chicago neighborhood. Definitely not for those seeking a pastoral or rural environment, it is ideal for those who appreciate being "in the middle of things", as this facility is surrounded by an eclectic and vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, cafes, and vintage architecture. However,despite its surroundings, the facility deftly allows residents to isolate themselves from the bustle if they are feeling overwhelmed.
The building is fresh both inside and out, the decor a well-calculated and very tasteful blend of traditonal elements and modern amenities. The impresive lobby is flanked by a communal area on one side and a combination "bistro" and dining area on the other. The Bistro is a cafe-like area with coffee, tea, and juices that is always available for interaction between residents and/or guests, and the large windows in the airy dining area allow one to dine in relative luxury while observing the street activity.
Other communal areas include a library, numerous small lounge areas scattered about the residential floors, a theater/activity room, a large game/recreation room, and a truly charming interior, open-air patio area, filled with resident-tended plants, and used for activities and cook outs as weather allows. Another nice touch is a private dining room which residents can reserve to "host" a family gathering.
Like some other organizations, Sunrise seems to favor "companion-living" suites to maximize space and thereby offer a lower basic rate. These units feature two separate sleeping areas or rooms sharing a common sitting/kitchenette area. Though suitable or even ideal for some seniors, others may find this option unacceptable, especially since, though at the lower end of the Sunrise rate scale, the rates are comparable to individual units at similar facilities. As for single units, Sunrise Lincoln Park offers three basic variations, the smallest being about $4500/month, about $1000 more than their lowest rate. It should be noted that these rates are only for basic residential services- meals, laundry, cleaning, and access to all activities and areas. Those requiring actual assistance with their daily activities will be assessed an additional $600 to $2050/month, depending upon exactly which level of care a resident is determined to require.
In fairness, though the rates here are defintely on the high end of the spectrum for this type of facility, the units themselves are spacious and well-designed. Also, for those of you unfamiliar with Chicago, the rents for even conventional apartments in this area are at the high end of the spectrum in a City where the average rent is high to begin with. The point here is, while this is definitely not a bargain when compared to assisted living facilities elsewhere in Chicago or the surrounding area, it is by no means unreasonable when one takes into account the location. For seniors just transitioning into assisted living, or even those experiencing certain mental or physical impairments, this is an excellent location for those who still enjoy, on one level or another, the many opportunties and sights that Chicago has to offer.
The overall demeanor here is cheery, if perhaps a bit reserved. The staff that we encountered was friendly and welcoming, but brings us to a possible caveat. Having had extensive prior experience with another Sunrise in the area, we were less than ecstatic with the service we and our mother received at times. While most of the staff was conscientious, there were repeated gaffes over the course of her stay with them, both by the caregiving and management staff. While it may be unfair to judge an entire facility, or especially another facility merely within the same company, based on a few issues with perhaps only a few staff members, we feel that there should be minimal tolerance for errors when entrusting the health and safety of a loved one to a facility, especially when one is paying that organization a handsome sum for their services. Our problems were primarily based in what can most politely be termed as poor communications. Elements of care were not quite as initially presented; monitoring and observation of our mother's behavior was repeatedly shown to be inaccurate or,at least, inconsistent. This may sound minor, but when one has no dependable way of knowing how a woman suffering from advancing dementia is behaving on a daily basis, it can be very disconcerting when one finds that significant changes are taking place yet is unaware if they have been/are being addressed. Again, while our experience was with a different Sunrise facility, one must wonder how carefully each facility is monitored.
Like most assisted living locations, there is a well-designed schedule of activities. We were happy to see the residents enjoying the beautiful weather on their patio, something we'd never witnessed at the other Sunrise. They also feature a secure memory-care floor, dedicated to those with considerably-advanced dementia. While physically similar, the higher level of care brings expectedly higher monthly rates. Though we did not eat a meal here, we'd expect the food to be similar to the other Sunrises, with meals having daily features along with a standard "go-to" menu. If it parallels other Sunrises, the quality is sufficient, if unimpressive, and notably light on fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepared to carefully avoid waste, failure to arrive near the onset of a meal might mean that they have run out of a daily feature item.
Truthfully, I would give this facility the benefit of the doubt. The fact that it is new, relatively small, and probably at the upper end of the Sunrise quality spectrum would lead us to believe that it will provide care more comprehensive than that of its sister location. While comparable care and amenities can easily be had at lower rates (there is also a sizeable, non-refundable "community fee" required upon move-in) at other assisted living facilities, one would be hard-pressed to find a nicer assisted living facility for those who might still revel in the bustle of city life.