Hi. My name is Blake Anderson. I’m one of the owners here at A Banyan Residence and we’re here in Venice, Florida right here on the island a couple of minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m going to walk you around and show you the property today but at a high level, we are a family-run, family-owned organization.
We’ve been serving the greater Venice community since 2009. My father is the founder and owner of our company and he started in assisted living and memory care in 1998 and this is an all-hands-on-deck operation for my family. My father, his wife, my brother, myself, all here at the organizational level, helping oversee operations here on this community.
We’re a 71-bed standard licensed assisted living and memory care community. One of the more defining features of our property is that the entire property is both assisted living and memory care.
Now what that means is we have a secure perimeter that goes around the entire property and all of our staff goes through the extra training to be able to assist with the cognitive impairment in the event that’s what is needed.
When my father started in assisted living and memory care in 1998, he looked at the industry and what the typical model was to service both the assisted living and the memory care population and what the industry standard seemed to be was that these populations were segregated and the facility was forced to make a binary distinction – assisted living or memory care.
Often those environments offer very different environments and levels of stimulation. We structurally disagreed with that model. So we spent the extra time and effort to secure the whole property and have that staff go through that training because we didn’t think that a cognitive impairment was grounds for a less stimulating environment that was less appealing or not as nice.
So we came up with this hybrid model where the entire property, there’s no segregation between the two populations. Now this benefits just about everybody involved because even our most independent on the assisted living side can be challenged physically by folks that have a cognitive impairment. Then the more independent assisted living challenge our memory care folks on the cognitive side.
The way that this translates to a benefit to families is they have the comfort of being able to move a resident into our community and rest assured that no matter what happens, physically or mentally, they never have to move properties, never have to move buildings or even rooms.
As the aging process advances and a cognitive decline begins to show itself, that is not the time to change an environment and reintroduce somebody to something they’re unfamiliar with, which is why we went through this effort to make sure the room they initially move into will be the same for as long as they want it to be.
So this is one of our activity gazebos. Now during the day, when the weather is nice enough, where the temperature is comfortable and there’s no sort of rain or storms, we try to do as much here as possible. Reason being we see a lot of automatic value in just having access to the outdoors for a senior, whether there is a cognitive impairment or not, which is really why our property is so outdoor-focused.
Even so, even to the effect that our rooms actually open directly to the outside. Now on a typical day, this entire area would be packed and there will be an activity led by one of my multiple activity directors that are here on property every day. It may range everything from exercise to brain games, to live music, pet therapy. We really make an effort to hit every possible interest point for every resident that’s here.
So anytime a new resident moves in, we sit down with the activity director, the resident and their family. We go through all of their background, their interests, the languages they’ve spoken, the instruments they’ve played, and really understand what makes the person that is sitting in front of us that day.
We also go through every single activity that we sponsor here on property at some time or another and ask the family to optimistically tell us along with the resident, “Would that person be interested if we were sponsoring this activity on property?”
Now for every answer that we get a yes for, that goes into our proprietary software, and when our activity director goes to sponsor a new activity, they have a list of every resident that said they’re interested in that and their responsibility is to work with other staff and encourage those residents to come and participate.
Like come on. We know you love arm exercises. Come with me to the gazebo. I’m going to sit you down. Your buddy Paula is already sitting there. We find that this is an amazing tool to get residents engaged and develop their own identity on property as well as start to make friends because they begin seeing some of the same people at all of these activities and it does spawn these organic friendships for people that newly are moving on to the property.
We are a certified butterfly garden here on property. In 2020, we got certified with the North American Butterfly Association as a certified butterfly garden.
Now what that means is that we have nearly a dozen different plant varieties that are either caterpillar food or butterfly nectar. We attract well over a dozen different butterfly species here. For example this garden right here is made of milkweed.
Now this may seem to be invasive for some families at home. But for us, this is a dedicated garden and is an absolute magnet for monarch butterflies. So you will frequently come out here and see these black, yellow and white striped caterpillars that turn into the cocoons and then we have all these beautiful orange and black monarch butterflies like we have here.
Then we look over at this tree. This is a Cassia tree. This blooms these beautiful yellow flowers, plain yellow flowers and attracts butterflies that look identical to it, these large, yellow butterflies.
Then as we look over here, we have Mexican petunias. These attract zebra butterflies. So black butterflies with pale yellow stripes. As we move on, we have lantana across both of these flower beds. These attract monarch butterflies as well.
On the fence, we have Pentas and these attract these white checkered butterflies. This white butterfly is about an inch long. Then as we come up on this fence here, we have what’s called passion vine. So the flower is this large, stringy, purple flower. But it attracts giant swallowtails.
So these yellow and black, just like in this picture, butterflies that come to be about the size of your forearm, giant butterflies. So the layout of our property is we have our main clubhouse right at the center and that’s the heartbeat of our property. That’s where our dining room, administrative office is, sensory room and kitchen all are housed and we find that this is a common area for residents when the weather is not permitting for them to be outdoors.
But as we come into the dining room, you’re greeted at our front desk and immediately to your left, you will see that we have a baby grand piano. Now this was actually a donation from a current family member on the condition that we hire people to come play it, which we are more than happy to do.
As we come out here, this is our main dining room. So we encourage as many residents as possible to eat every meal here. Reason being is that the dining experience is a social one and we’re all about creating this social environment, promoting independence, activity and stimulation.
So during mealtimes, these are extremely well-populated. Now for every meal, we have a preset menu designed by a licensed nutritionist. The reason we do one meal choice rather than a menu of microwavable items is so that my kitchen team can actually take the time and attention to make these meals extraordinary.
I actually eat two meals a day here. So – and I’m really doing fine. But when the weather is not permitting, we do games in here like bingo or if for some reason we can’t be outside for live music, we will bring it in here. We will also do holiday events. So Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving. You know, all of the major holidays. We have giant parties in this room.
So this here is our organ. Now this was actually donated to us by a local organ group from a church. Three women came to us and said, “We will give you this brand new Lowrey organ on the condition that you allow all three of us to come every week and play it for free.”
So we thought, hey, great deal. Now this was set up before I started in 2019 and I thought it was the wildest setup. Come to find out three months after I started, a group of four people came to me, two men and two women, and said, “We would love to come play organ for you. We will do it for free. But you have to have a very specific type of organ. It has to be a Lowrey organ.” I said, “You are not going to believe this.”
So at one time, we had seven different organists here every single week playing organ during mealtimes for all of our residents. As we look over here, this is our wall honoring all of our veterans and you can see we have a lot of original service photos.
Like for example, we have a gentleman who was in World War Two, a photo taken when he was 18 years old. For Veterans Day, we do a giant celebration here on property. We have a junior Marine Corps color guard come and do their flag routine along with a rep from the VA, a uniformed vet actually to pin all of our residents with an American flag and we really honor every veteran that we have here.
As you can see, we always have fresh fruit and coffee available constantly for any residents that are interested throughout the day.
So people ask us all the time, given that we live in Florida, about emergency preparedness. The good news is we’re actually a hurricane shelter here. Through a category three, we remain. We shelter in place. Beyond the category three, the island is mandated to evacuate and in which case we would evacuate to our Central Florida property away from the storm’s harm.
We do have transportation already set up and accommodations at our receiving facility to make sure that every resident here has their – all of their health and personal needs accommodated. Now with that said, for the storms that we do shelter in place, everything on this property is impact-resistant. My family, we grew up in South Florida and you only go through one hurricane without impact resisting everything before you never do it again.
So our entire property was built as such. We also have this thousand-gallon propane generator that powers our property in the event of a power outage. While we are here though, this towering tree above me is called a Keitt mango tree. Now this is a Florida local mango tree and these put out mangoes about this tall and they don’t turn that reddish color you see in grocery stores. They stay green and when you pick them, after about a week, they ripe into this golden color and at that point, we serve them by the dozen to all of our residents here and I will tell you, they are extraordinary.
So we’ve had a couple of fruit trees here on property, both mango, avocado and coconut palms for our entire existence here and we found that the fruiting aspect of them were so popular, we thought, “Why don’t we plant a bunch more saplings to kind of invest in the future?” So this is an example of one of these little saplings.
Now this is called a pink lemon. Now if you’ve never seen a pink lemon, it looks like a regular lemon but with green zebra stripes and the inside is actually bright pink and they are extraordinary and we use them as garnish for different meals.
Above us is an example of one of our 12 to 18 coconut palms and actually when the coconuts get to be about the size of my head, we have all the residents draw straws and the short straw, that residents climb the tree and get the coconuts. I’m joking. But we will bring wheelbarrows worth of coconuts into the dining room and actually crack them open and serve coconut water to all of the residents at mealtime.
In the bushes here, we have another sapling and what’s called a Jamaican cherry. Now the Jamaican cherry, when it fruits, the cherries actually taste exactly like cotton candy.
So one of the more defining features of our property is we are a dominantly outdoor concept. Of our almost two acres of property here, more than half of that is dedicated to outdoor space, walking paths, fishponds, gazebos, fountains, what – you name it.
We do see wildlife along with that. So you could be sitting out here by the fishpond and see rabbits, squirrels or even birds flying around you. We actually put these bird feeders in here and it happens to attract blue jays and cardinals, which we see here very frequently.
This is called a candlestick Cassia tree. This is another butterfly plant. Now when this blooms, the flowers, they’re these yellow vertical towers of flower and they attract these orange sulphur butterflies. But what’s interesting is when they’re not blooming, they have these pods and inside the pods are all of the seeds.
So every time we give a tour, we sprinkle some seeds and as you can see, we have more candlestick Cassia growing.
One of the benefits of living in one of our communities is that we provide all of the suites fully furnished at no cost if you want us to. Not everybody has large format artwork, flat screens or outdoor patio furniture. Families have the option of bringing items that they want and then letting us fill in what they don’t have or they can completely furnish the room themselves. But we do call ourselves toothbrush-ready where all you need to bring is whatever you would bring to a resort, a couple of weeks of clothing as well as your personal toiletry bag.
So this is an example of one of our suites. So we have all these patio furniture out front and the rooms open directly to the outside. Now residents all have a key to their room and the doors are able to be locked.
Now the layout of all of our suites is very similar. They’re all set up as two-bedroom suites and families have the option of choosing to rent one of the two bedrooms in a shared configuration or a private suite. Now this is an example of one of our private suites. Everything you see in here is our furniture. So this would be how a suite looks on the day that you move in.
Now we’ve set up the front typically as a living room. So cushion chairs and tables, lamps, artwork, flat screens and a nightstand, along with curtains, drapes, you name it.
As we move towards the back, there is a hallway separating both the front bedroom as well as the back. Now we have a kitchenette here with a fridge and microwave that we supply and we actually stock the fridges with our private label bottled water constantly. We know that hydration is such an important key for seniors, making sure that there’s no risk of urinary tract infections. So we promote hydration constantly.
In fact every day, for meals, every resident gets a glass of water and a juice and then in between meals, at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, my activity staff makes sure that every resident gets more fluids, more hydration, because we want to promote that healthy well-being aspect of living here.
The way that our bathrooms are designed is so that the showers are roll-in, meaning there is no threshold at all and no risk for tripping. We do have built-in shower chairs that fold down should a resident need it and we have both handheld shower tools as well as soap dispensers built into the wall.
We actually designed our own private label body wash and shampoo that admittedly took us months to come up with the scent. But that is the soap that we actually supply in all of these showers.
You will see that we have grab bars throughout the bathroom, both in the shower as well as near the toilet, so that residents can continue to be as independent as possible and use their own support when they need to.
We also as well have pull cords in both the bathroom as well as all of the bedrooms so that should a resident need help and they give it a tug, it sets off all sorts of bells and whistles in our clubhouse and to our supervisors letting us know that a resident is in need.
So as we move back beyond the hallway, we’re now in what is the second bedroom. So in this case, being a private suite, this is her sleeping space. Now we supply a twin size bed, nightstand, lamps, cushion chairs, loveseats. Again, you name it, to full outfit this room so that it is comfortable and move-in-ready.
There’s an additional flat screen and an additional closet. So all of our closets have built-in drawers, shelving and hanging space. Now for residents to do their laundry, we actually supply both the towels and linens and do the laundry for them for free. Now families have the option. They can either pick up their resident’s laundry or my dedicated housekeeping staff can collect, clean, fold and return a resident’s laundry twice a week as a service if families are interested in that.
So another one of our fruit sapling trees here, this is star fruit. So again, a brand new tree. But what’s interesting, I’ve already pulled 10 extremely meaty star fruit off this but interestingly just off this one single branch. We actually had to tie this branch to the rest of the tree, so the branch didn’t just break off with all the star fruit on it.
This is our screwpine. Now this is technically a fruit and as you can see, these spiky balls grow to be about this size, this reddish-green spiky balls. Now technically, this is a fruit and each of these flakes, you can pluck them off and the inside is this yellow meat.
Now we had a resident actually that loved to eat screwpine. One of my directors thought, “OK. I will give it a try,” and tried one of them. Apparently they are horribly disgusting. So we don’t really eat the screwpine but so far every other fruit tree we do.
But this is one of our prized trees. This is our avocado tree. Now these fruits every year, these great big avocados and when they are ripe, we will serve them as guacamole and avocado slices to all of our residents.
What’s interesting is every four years, it has a super fruit cycle where it blooms so many avocados that the weight of them actually threatened to bring down the entire tree.
So on years like that, we have to be very diligent to make sure that we are plucking the avocadoes as soon as they’re ripe.
Finally in the corner here, we have our lychee tree. Again, another one of our fruit saplings.
So as we walk back, we are now getting farther from the clubhouse. The way that our property is laid out, we tend to have the folks that need the most supervision and the most hands-on care closest to the clubhouse and then we see more independence as we move farther away.
Now you will see we have benches scattered throughout the property. So as people are walking, they have an area to stop and sit. This is one of our picnic areas with these hanging orchids. If a resident wants to take a meal and eat it outside, we will happily accommodate that or even family members. They may come for a birthday and set up here in the picnic area.
As we come around here, this is our barbecue pit. So every Sunday, we do our family and friend barbecues where we use our stainless steel grills here. Our kitchen team will actually make hotdogs, burgers, chicken breasts, you name it.
We invite – come one, come all. We never charge for anybody to eat here because we want more people on property. As we look over here, we have our fire pit. So in the few cold days a year, we will actually fire up our fire pit and make S’mores or for our Veterans Day ceremony, we will have the fire going behind them.
Then throughout the week, when the weather is nice, we do activities out here just for a change of scenery and constantly getting them exposed to the outdoors, given the amount of value that seniors have, having access to the outside.
This is another one of our residential buildings. So again, identical layout inside each of these rooms. But you will see that we try to set up each suite or each area as its own neighborhood. Two acres can be imposing for a senior, especially one with a cognitive impairment.
So for each of our residential buildings, we set up a more comfortable environment where they can be conversational and feel at home, a little bit more easier to manage in terms of size.
So as you can see, you know, we have a fountain area here and residents will sit outside of the rooms and just enjoy the sounds of the fountain and read the paper in the morning.
Now this is our hair salon. So every week, we have a beautician come in on property and work with any resident interested in getting a haircut, hair color, hairstyle, you name it.
There’s never a reason to actually carry cash on property because any cost incurred for us, we pass through on the next invoice. So residents are not responsible for managing their own finances when they’re on here on property.
But this beautician, we only bring in the best and brightest because it’s important for these residents to look as good as they feel. We also have a nail tech that will come in, again, once a week and do fingernails, whether it be a manicure for men or painting the nails for the women.
So another benefit of living here included in that room and board price is daily housekeeping. So every morning, after residents go to breakfast, my staff doubles back and goes in and tidies up all the rooms, makes the bed, changes the sheets, takes the trash out and makes sure that the rooms are up to par.
Now once a week, my housekeeping staff will go in there and do a deep clean. Really move the furniture, make sure we’re getting all the cracks and crevices, so that that room is sparkling. We also do laundry up to two times a week. So my housekeeping team will go into a resident’s room and take their clothing out one by one. So there’s no potential for clothing to get mixed. They will wash it, fold it and return it that same day.
So this is actually our koi fishpond. So in 2009 when we built this facility, we put this pond in here and we bought these koi fish, the size of minnows, and over time what we did is we actually put a fish food feeder right here at the corner of the pond and we see residents spend hours at a time here shoveling fish food into this pond.
Now that’s much to our benefit because as you can see, these fish are extraordinarily large for a koi and the benefit to us is that it’s now a self-sustaining population. So as the fish age, they are still repopulating with their own young.
Now as an example, some of these larger fish with the beautiful squishy tails, these are now thousand dollar fish because, you know, koi, when they’re this big, are extremely expensive.
So if assisted living doesn’t work out for us, we do have koi fish and peddlers as a backup.
Now this is an amazing spot for residents to relax during the day because you have the sounds of the waterfall. We have more butterfly plants surrounding the pond and we do have the fish that are constantly swimming and hungry for any food that’s willing to be given. So this is a very peaceful spot for a lot of residents.
So we call ourselves an “age-in-place community” and the way that we accomplish that is as a resident ages and their physical or mental demands increase, my staff is trained to be able to provide assistance with activities of daily living through the end of a resident’s life
Now beyond the help that my staff gives, we partner with all of these third party health providers that can supplement what our on-property offering is. So we have home health groups for example that can come to the property to do physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy.
We have physicians, whether we have primary care here every week, we have psych specialists. Then we have our different categories of specialists such as podiatry, dermatology, dentistry, you name it, that actually come here to the property and work with residents here. So there’s no need for coordination for off-property transportation.
Then when residents do reach the end of their life and their time here, we do coordinate with hospice so that they can receive that comfort care and work with hospice in the room that they’ve become accustomed to over the years prior.
So there’s no need for displacement and we can keep residents comfortable here if that need arises.