Castle Peak Senior Care eyes existing occupancy, program expansion
EAGLE — At the end of September, Castle Peak Senior Care will celebrate its first year in business.
As with another other new operation, the senior-care facility has spent the past nine months on a learning curve. For decades, the community has decried the lack of housing and care options available to residents as they age. The facility now exists, but Castle Peak naturally has faced a unique set of challenges as it launches its program.
Augustana Care, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that owns and manages 23 senior-care projects, is the owner-operator at Castle Peak Senior Care. The facility’s 5-acre site is located immediately north of Brush Creek Elementary School in the Eagle Ranch neighborhood. The 62,000-square-foot building now dominates the T-intersection of Capitol Street and Sylvan Lake Road and includes 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living apartments, 12 memory care beds and 10 transitional care units.
“Our plan was to be 93 percent filled in assisted living by the end of September,” said Dan Shields, campus administrator at Castle Peak. “We are pretty close to that.”
As of earlier this week, the assisted-living portion of the project has 65 percent occupancy.
On the skilled nursing side, Shields said occupancy is fluid, with patients coming to the center as their personal needs dictate. He said Augustana projected 50 percent occupancy in the skilled nursing unit by September.
As for the memory-care unit, Augusta plans to have that part of the project operational by September.
“Really, it is a matter of having enough people who need that service,” Shields said. “The September opening will give us the opportunity to get people trained and hired.”
Shields said the memory-care wing at Castle Peak will require an additional 12 employees. That will be a challenge.
Shields noted that because there are no other senior-care facilities nearby, Castle Peak is attracting a number of employees who have never worked in the senior-care industry before. Because of that, these employees need entry-level training. Additionally, Shields said once they are hired and trained, employees need to find out if this is work they enjoy.
“We are actually doing better than we thought we would, hiring as a start-up,” he said. “People don’t always know what to expect because this is so new in the valley.”
Meeting a need
While Castle Peak hasn’t yet reached its occupancy capacity, Shields said Augustana remains confident it will.
“We still feel very confident that these are services that are needed here in the valley,” Shields said. “We know that we will fill up. These projects just take some time.”
Augustana isn’t the only organization that sees a need for local senior housing. An assisted-living and memory-care facility is currently under construction in Glenwood Springs. Shields said the Glenwood facility doesn’t include skilled nursing services, however, which means Castle Peak’s program will compliment that nearby development.
Back in Eagle, Shields said Castle Peak has been a welcome addition to the town. He said the center has a robust community volunteer corps, and residents enjoy spending time with students at nearby Brush Creek Elementary School.
Those units are all deed-restricted, meaning that only people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week can live there. That keeps the apartments out of the short-term rental pool and available to local residents.