Veteran Care: What Does it Mean to be VA Contracted?

Did you know that the VA contracts with community nursing homes to care for aging veterans?

As a veteran, you have options when you’re in need of skilled nursing care. You aren’t limited to only those facilities run by the VA.

At St. William’s, we are proud to say that we are one of the few skilled nursing facilities in the area that’s contracted with the VA for veteran care.

Keep reading to learn more about what it means to be VA contracted.

Services We Offer Veterans

Nursing homes run by the VA are often hard to get into and might be located many miles from friends and family. If you opt for a community nursing facility, such as St. William’s, you can get the top-notch care you need while staying local.

Our facility offers veterans individualized medical care. Nurses work with your doctor to develop a care plan that’s best for you. Whether you’re staying with us short-term to recover from an injury or surgery, or you’re here for a longer stay, our staff is here for you with 24-hour care and support.

We offer a range of therapy services including physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Our state-of-the-art physical therapy room offers all the tools you’ll need to strengthen your muscles and improve joint function.

At St. William’s, we understand that, as a veteran, you may have unique obstacles to overcome on a day-to-day basis. Our mental health professionals work with veterans one-on-one to ensure they can manage the stress of daily life. Simply having someone to talk to can make a huge difference in your quality of life.

Occupational therapists work with veterans to help them become more independent. They can help you to re-learn how to feed and clothe yourself, do chores around the house, and cook for yourself. Occupational therapy might be just the thing you need to get back on your feet after a stroke or injury.

Are You Eligible?

According to the VA website, if you served in the active military, naval, or air services, you may be eligible for VA healthcare benefits. Visit their site to check specific eligibility requirements and to sign up for health care benefits. Once you’re signed up for benefits, you can learn more about what the services VA can help with.

There are three different types of nursing facilities that the VA will cover. State-owned veteran homes and VA-owned facilities, as well as community nursing homes such as St. William’s. Only the facilities contracted with the VA will qualify for benefits, so it’s in your best interest, as a veteran, to choose a facility like St. William’s who works with the VA and understands the process.

Veteran Care Done the Right Way

At St. William’s, we value veterans. They fought for freedom and served our country bravely. Now it’s time for us to serve them.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help care for you or your loved one.

Why St. William’s for Senior Care? It’s the Home with a Heart!

It can happen in the blink of an eye – a fall, a sudden illness, a stroke, or a heart attack.

When a situation arises where you need a skilled nursing facility, you don’t want to rush into a decision. That’s why it’s important to prepare. Get to know your local nursing home before a medical issue forces your hand.

In this article, we’ll show you why St. William’s Living Center is an excellent choice for senior care.

Five-Star Medicare Rating

The best way to compare nursing homes is to use Each nursing home in the country is given a star rating through Medicare. The overall star rating is based on the following factors:

  • Health inspections
  • Staffing
  • Quality of resident care measures

Each year, nursing homes undergo a thorough inspection by the state. The inspection looks over all areas of nursing home life including housekeeping, food safety, medication management, and protection from abuse.

The staff rating is based on the number of staffing hours per resident per day. Quality ratings measure how residents are doing at the facility. Inspectors take into account activity levels,  weight management, pain management, and up-to-date vaccinations.

It’s not easy for a nursing home to receive an overall five-star rating, but St. William’s has done it many times over. On our most recent survey, we received above-average scores in all three areas of care and a much-above-average overall score.

Everything You Need in One Place

St. William’s is a skilled nursing facility, but we offer so much more! Our outpatient therapy services are available to residents and to community members alike.

Physical therapists help patients recover faster from surgeries or illnesses and provide the necessary support for those who need a little extra help moving around.

We offer occupational therapy to help residents regain strength and get back to the activities of daily living. Our therapists help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other duties around the home. They also teach techniques for energy conservation and joint protection to prevent future injuries.

Our speech pathologists give the gift of speech to those who have lost their way. They help patients regain the ability to swallow, feed themselves, and communicate their needs.

As a resident at St. William’s, you or your loved one will have access to all of our therapy options as well as a diverse activities schedule, full dining room, and beautiful outdoor spaces.

Our Senior Care Staff is Second-to-None!

At St. William’s, we have a full staff of qualified RNs, LPNs, and CNAs to meet your senior care needs. We work with you and your doctor to come up with a personalized care plan that manages your nutritional, pharmaceutical, and social needs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, St. William’s staff members have taken great strides to make life better for our residents. Visitor restrictions have put many residents in risk of mental health issues. But the staff at St. William’s has risen to the occasion by helping residents communicate with their loved ones via video chats and window visits and by providing much-needed companionship.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was administered to staff and residents on January 13, 2021. The second dose of the vaccine will come in February.

We are so excited to share that there are currently NO active cases of COVID-19 at St. William’s and we will be able to welcome back visitors on Monday, January 25, 2021. Please refer to our visitation guide for more information on how to visit your loved ones.

As we come closer to a time when COVID-19 is no longer a threat, we want to thank the community for your support. St. William’s is more than a senior care facility – we are the home with a heart!

Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

Benefits of Short-Term Rehab at St. William’s

The days and weeks following a surgery or an injury are critical. Going home is not always the best option. You may lack the strength and mobility you’ll need to get back on your feet and back to your regular routine.

Short-term rehab is an excellent option if you’re looking for a bit of extra help while you recover. In this article, we’ll share the benefits of taking a few days or weeks to recover at St. William’s Living Center.

Recover Faster

Trying to get back on your feet when you’re all by yourself can be really tough. Even with a caretaker near, recovery can be a stressful process if you or your caretaker don’t have the proper skills. You may suffer from extreme fatigue, mobility issues, and lack of strength.

Studies have shown that people who participate in focused rehabilitation programs immediately after a medical procedure or stroke recover faster than those who don’t. With help from a dedicated staff of care professionals, you’ll get back on your feet faster.

You may benefit from short-term rehab if you’ve suffered from one or more of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Joint replacement
  • Stroke
  • Injury
  • Neurological issues
  • Illness

On-Site Therapy

Many doctors prescribe physical or occupational therapy after a surgery. You’ll get the most out of your therapy appointments if you can take them on-site at a short-term care facility. You won’t have to worry about traveling to appointments and risking further injury by moving around too much before your body is ready.

Physical therapists work with you to regain mobility and strength. You’ll receive a personalized therapy program that gives you the training and tools you need for proper recovery. Your therapist will also teach you exercises to do when you go home to lower the risk of falls or future injuries.

Occupational therapy focuses on improving coordination so you can tackle day-to-day tasks with greater ease. Your occupational therapist can help you relearn how to cook, clean, do laundry, and complete other activities when you go home.

24-Hour Care

Having a whole team of care professionals on-site to help you is a really beneficial part of short-term rehab. Other care professionals include nurses, nutritionists, and social workers.

Nursing care is especially important during the first few days after your hospital stay. They’ll help you keep track of medications, make sure you’re getting enough food and water, and can assist in bathing and toileting, if necessary. At St. William’s, we are a veteran contracted facility and can work with the VA on the right care plan for you.

You’ll also have access to other amenities including a full menu of dining options and organized daily activities to keep your brain and body active. During the warmer months, you can enjoy the outdoors in the community courtyards without worry of falling and risking further injury.

Get Back on Your Feet with Short-Term Rehab at St. William’s

Short-term rehab is an excellent option for those who aren’t quite ready to return home after a medical event. If you fall into this category, know that we’re here to help.

Contact us today! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

What Does “Getting Old” Mean?

What is the definition of “Getting Old”?  Is “getting old” about a person’s age or maybe it really has nothing to do with the number of years a person lives? 

There are good and bad connotations about “getting old”.  There are true hallmarks of becoming older, such as doing things slower than usual, forgetting more easily, getting wrinkles, and needing more rest than before.  No doubt, age usually begets a breakdown in our physical and mental capabilities; but, does that actually mean we are “getting old?”.  Does “getting old” really have to do with declining health and succumbing to its struggles or is it more about life experiences and the value of what you have to offer? 

Maybe “getting old” has more to do with the characteristics developed after being around for a long time.  After battling through the thicket of life’s circumstances and succumbing to the many bumps along the way, what kind of outlook does an older person develop over the years?  Of course, we are all different and respond uniquely as we journey down the road. 

Those who have aged have a choice of “getting older”.  Maybe “getting old” is when you are absorbed with the loss of what you had before or what you don’t have now?

Or, maybe the choice is to experience the maturity and thoughtfulness of this life.  There is definitely some truth to the saying, “Wisdom Comes with Age”, although this is really determined by the one “getting old”.  Wisdom is about looking through the lens of what really matters; yielding to a backlash of experiences, seeing the forest and not just the trees, summarizing life’s issues, and deriving conclusions by gaining perspective or a well-rounded view of what is important. “Getting old” can be about building tolerance, patience, fortitude, understanding, focusing on what truly matters, having more confidence and feeling a calling or moral responsibility to speak up for the sake of the upcoming generations.  “Getting older” may be a beautiful thing.  What a ripe moment to enjoy life, if you choose to. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Seniors Facing COVID-19

Putting yourself in the seat of a senior, what would it feel like to be constantly reminded about the fear of contracting COVID-?  While facing the reality that grave illness or death for themselves or their friends may be just around the corner, the curve of anxiety takes a steep turn upwards.  Not only is the mind turning various possibilities of “What if’s”, they are also more prone to constant worrying, sleeping and eating problems, concentration difficulties, increased irritability and frustration, and likely fear the worst-case scenarios – all symptoms of clinical anxiety; and all normal in the face of a pandemic. 

On top of this, seniors, as is the case for most Americans, are authorized to isolate themselves or practice social distancing during the course of this virus.  Overall, seniors struggle significantly more with isolation compared to the general population.   As isolation persists as a constant, loneliness oftentimes begets depression.   Being alone can be debilitating, with a high suicide rate among those over 65, noting that 18% of all suicide deaths are from the elderly population.  Depression among the elderly oftentimes shows itself with common symptoms, including staying in bed and sleeping too much or too little, not eating well, losing interest in a usual routine, having little energy to do even pleasurable activities, postponing contact with others, and of course isolating.  Actually, if you have visited your area nursing home or senior living facilities, it is evident that there is an epidemic of loneliness among its residents.

On the flip side, not only do seniors isolate themselves when depressed, the truth is that they are isolated as a forgotten generation while the rest of the world stays busy with all its distractions.  Their isolation comes from within as well as in a large part, prompted by the reality of being left behind as an after-thought or one of the last “things to do” on their adult children’s “to do” list. Isolation is a daily reality for most seniors, and likely much more so with the COVID-19 virus.

As we all face being home-bound, missing our friends and those family members not living with us, isolated in a sense from normal living, let’s pause and empathize with those seniors that live like this as a matter of routine.  Reach out and connect.  Seniors need the support, comfort, and alliance during this difficult time.  They are a special generation of people with strong values and faith, hardy by history, and have been our leaders and role models for the generations after them.  They are next in line as the lost generation.  Let us respect, appreciate and value their worth, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  Now that life hurriedness has taken a stop with quarantine for most of us, let us take time and reflect on what really is important.  Reach out and virtually touch a senior, including those that are isolated as well as those more vulnerable and are especially dealing with heightened anxiety and depression.  If you were sitting in their seat, isn’t that what you would want?  

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Mental Health Professional

St. Williams Mental Health Services

What About the Kids?

How are kids dealing with the CoVid-19?  Being locked down is a difficult proposition, but especially for our kids.  Kids are used to playing with their friends, being active, going to school and not necessarily focusing on world events as their parents are.  I mean, it is their parents’ job, right? Not there’s.  However, don’t be fooled.  With Co-VID-10, those of smaller stature have experienced their worlds as having been turned upside down these past few weeks.

First, they are home-bound.  They have limited access with their friends and only through electronic means.  Their only companions are their siblings which in reality can be quite skirmish and combative.  They are limited to their back yard, if they have one and it is not snowing and cold.  The news of the virus is on nearly 24/7 on many channels.  The resounding “Breaking News” numerates many times a day, and oftentimes parents are glued to the updates to prepare for the next surge of action.  But “what about the kids?”. 

Even when parents try to fake it, kids feel it in their bones when their parents feel anxious, frustrated, belabored or depressed.  That is the nature of kids.  Their connection to their parents is intuitive.  It can’t be seen or heard, but it is there.  They feel what their parents feel.  They may express it or react differently than their parents, but kids feel there is definitely something in the air! They watch their parents watch the news and the tension draws deeply inside them.  They watch their parents, the leaders of their world, struggle.

Kids also have their own reaction to the crisis besides dealing with their parents’ reaction.  They are out of their element.  Instead of playing or doing homework after school while supper is being made, they are at home all of the time.  They can no longer be distracted by reality.  They have nightmares or feel that zombies are living in their basement.  They may regress and act younger than they are.  They may be clingier, or cry more, or have more outbursts.  It’s their way of saying that they are not doing well.  Expressing their fears verbally is just not their nature at their young ages.

What do kids need?  Lots of love, and patience, and understanding, and reassurance, and a walk-through of their fears to help them better understand that things will eventually return to normal.  They need guidance and leadership.  They need a parent who will help them pick up the pieces and encourage them to be resilient, look at positives, and allow their parents to handle the burdens.  What about the kids?  Their mind is not yet developed and their understanding of this crisis is warped by the emotion of it all.  Be there for them.  Help them know that this will soon pass.  Give them hope.  Give them your attention.  Having kids stay at home could be a hidden blessing as they are around their most influential people to help them get through this crisis.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW


Hunkering Down with the Coronavirus

Here we are, hunkering down at home for a while.  Who would have thought?  How do we survive with each other during this time of crisis?  This in itself can be quite the stressor unless we practice some good strategies. 

Here are some of the mental health practices oftentimes reviewed in the literature that you can install in your home to make the time go smoother for everyone during the lockdown period.

Have a routine – Grab onto some structure.  Most of us are accustomed to some kind of structure, be it work duties at our jobs or school assignments at school.  Now, with chaos arising at the home-front, having a routine is a good thing to incorporate; sleeping and eating schedules, exercise times, social distancing contacts, designated chores or duties, selected fun time with new and creative activities, and school and work time slots with designated breaks.  It doesn’t have to be a prison for everyone, but it surely doesn’t have to be WWIII!  Studies have shown that having a routine can help reduce boredom, reduce anxiety and depression and lead to more healthy patterns of coping.  This format at home can then allow more energy to deal with other more important things that need to be tended to. 

Don’t stop exercising because the gym is no longer open – Physical exercise is synced with good mental health.  Get that heart pumping, build those muscles and make that body move.  Cramped quarters can be a problem, but figure out how you can make it work – even if you have to have a shared group exercise program in the living room, or if you can find some exercises that allow you to stay in one place.  It doesn’t take a genius.

Spend time in nature – even if it is through a TV channel, video or internet.  It is calming to your soul and it definitely helps your body relax.  There is much research that has found time in “green” and “blue” space is associated with a reduction in anxiety and depression as well as helps reduce the risk of chronic health issues.  Being out in the sunshine, breathing air outside (with good social distancing) is a good habit for both your body and mind.  In fact, some studies indicate that the chemicals released from the trees; phytoncides” can increase the immune cells that help keep the body healthy.

Re-arrange, clean out or organize your home – It makes you feel productive, you gain a sense of control over times of uncertainty, and gives you time to focus on something else besides the news flashes and all the media clips about the Corona-Virus. 

Give yourself some time to breathe, be quiet, and meditate.  It helps your body calm down, have better insight as to what is happening, and maintain a sense of internal control and confidence that this too shall pass.

Continue with your support team as you maintain social distancing – We are social creatures and need each other; that is how we were made.  Take time to reach out and connect.

Keep your empathy at the forefront – While experiencing the sense of being home-bound, you now can realize what so many people regularly experience throughout their much of their lives.  Reach out. – but don’t touch – at least not yet.    Empathy is a great experience that makes you feel good all over.  Doing acts of kindness and thinking of others before yourself all have huge mental health benefits.  It provides you with a sense of purpose.  It also helps you the opportunity to climb out of yourselves and give a bit of support and kindness to someone else that also needs it. 

Be thankful – Recognizing your blessings, being grateful, trusting in a spirit greater than yourself can be hugely beneficial to mental health.  Practicing thankfulness with others not only improves your mood, but those recipients of such grace.  Don’t judge.  Realize that we are all likely doing the best we can with what we got.  Sit back and relax.  We will get through this.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW


How Are We All Doing?

Well, the sun is still shining.  Spring is on its way-….and, we are nearly homebound as we continue to face CoVID-19. 

So much is happening:

  • You may be infected or a carrier, or know someone that is
  • You may be home-bound, either voluntarily or by government order
    • Restricted from going to bars, restaurants, or any entertainment venues
    • Home with the kids and likely in charge of helping the children understand why the crack-down, facilitating home-schooling options, making entertainment opportunities in the house, dealing with siblings’ conflicts, rule and chore enforcement, and household management
    • All alone and isolated
  • You are not able to see those that are vulnerable and elderly in nursing homes, assisted living, and those in senior living due to the risk of exposure
  • You are either unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation or engaged in your employment, exposing you to the risk of infection or a carrier of such
  • You are aware of many small venues closing their doors with their own financial losses due to a lack of customers
  • You have lost much of your retirement or monies held in the stock market with a look at what life may now be like without that added cushion.
  • You realize that life will not be the same once this has all passed.

So, how are most of us trying to deal with all of this?

  • Stress is the new normal, for all of the reasons above
    • Fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones
    • Sleeping and eating changes
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
    • Panic reactions
    • Catastrophizing further than what is warranted
  • The sun is still shining; this too shall pass

So, what kinds of things can you do to support yourself:

  • Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.  Of course, this is limited to phone, social media platforms or any other non-direct efforts
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can cause further anxiety and panic.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities and you are having difficulty functioning
  • When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel better.
  • And, remember; the sun is still shining.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Cover That Cough! Stay Safe with These Flu Prevention Tips

When was the last time you had the flu?

The flu is no fun, but fortunately for most people, it isn’t life-threatening, it’s just really annoying.

This changes as we age, however. Our immune systems lose steam and our bodies take longer to fight off common viral infections. The flu is extremely dangerous for the elderly, especially those who live in close quarters with others, like in a nursing home or senior living center. 

There are a few things we can all do to help prevent the spread of these diseases. Stay safe this spring with these flu prevention tips.

Cover That Cough

If you’re suffering from a cough, always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. According to the CDC, the proper way to cover a cough is by using a tissue to cover your mouth and nose while you cough. 

Immediately discard the tissue and use a brand new tissue when you need to cough again. If you can’t find a tissue, cough directly into the upper part of your sleeve. Never cough or sneeze into your hand. Hands are the worst place to spread germs.

Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash

Practice Good Hand Hygiene

You may not realize it, but almost everything you do on a daily basis involves using your hands. This makes them the perfect breeding ground for collecting and passing along germs. Hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent contracting the flu. 

Proper hand hygiene starts with hand washing. Here’s the right way to wash your hands:

  • Wet hands with warm, clean water. 
  • Apply soap and rub hands together to work up a good lather. 
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds, getting the backs of the hands, between the fingers, and under the nails.
  • Rinse hands with clean water and dry them using a clean towel or an air drier.  

Always wash your hands after you sneeze or cough, even if you use a tissue. Wash your hands after you use the restroom and after changing dirty diapers. Also, wash hands before you eat anything or prepare food. 

Leave Your Face Alone

Germs get into our bodies through our faces, including the eyes, nose, and mouth. Be conscious of how often you touch your face and make an effort to touch your face as little as possible. 

If you do need to touch your face, make sure to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before you do. This is especially important if you’ve been around someone who is ill. 

When In Doubt, Stay Home

If possible, stay home when you believe you’re getting sick. This tip is especially important when it comes to keeping elderly family and friends safe from this dangerous disease. Skip your weekly trip to the nursing home if you have any symptoms of illness or have been around anyone who’s sick.

Follow These Flu Prevention Tips for a Clean Bill of Health!

By following these easy flu prevention tips, you can seriously reduce your risk of contracting and spreading the flu. And that’s what we call a win-win situation!

At St. William’s Living Center, we take flu season seriously. Our facility consistently receives a 5-star rating from Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare program. This rating includes criteria for flu prevention measures. 
Call us today if you have any questions about the flu prevention tips we’ve outlined here.

St. William’s Consistently Rated 5-Star: What Does That Mean?

What do you want in a nursing home? Your list probably includes the following qualities:

  • Clean health inspections
  • A safe living environment
  • A friendly and supportive staff
  • Excellent resident care

What if you could get all of these qualities wrapped up in a newly remodeled facility that’s close to home? You can! St. William’s Living Center has consistently earned a 5-Star rating with’s Nursing Home Compare program.

What goes into a 5-Star rating? Keep reading to learn about the four quality measures a nursing home must excel at to reach this prestigious honor.

Health Inspections

Once a year, the state conducts a detailed inspection of the nursing home facility looking for health violations. The nursing home must correct these violations and submit the corrections to the state for review. The star rating for health inspections is determined by the number of violations cited and the severity of those violations.

St. William’s consistently earns an above-average rating in this category with significantly fewer citations than the state and national averages.

Fire Safety & Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies, such as fire, weather-related events, and power failures, are especially dangerous for nursing home residents because of their limited mobility. Nursing homes must have the proper safety equipment and procedures in place to comply with strict government regulations.

Fire and emergency preparedness ratings are part of the health inspection and St. William’s ranks above-average in this category.

St. Williams Nursing Home


It’s important that nursing homes have enough staff members to provide quality care for their residents. Staffing ratings are calculated by taking the number of residents and the number of staff members and figuring how much time each resident gets with staff members throughout the day.

Staff members include registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), trained medical aides, social services, and activities. The higher the calculated time each resident gets with staff, the higher the star rating for the nursing home.

Since 2013, St. William’s has improved the direct care staff time by almost 10%. Recently, we have added a Resident Support position, help residents by answering call lights, assisting with meals, and participating in daily activities.

St. William’s regularly earns an above-average rating for staffing.

Quality of Resident Care

An excellent care rating is what St. William’s is most proud of. We consistently rate “much above” state and national averages in this category. Our residents receive some of the best care in the nation!

Resident care is rated by 17 different measures. Some of these measures include flu and fall prevention, risk of re-hospitalization, and the rate at which residents can return home after a stay. These measures are then broken down into short-term stay, long-term stay, and overall care quality to determine a star rating.

St. William’s: The 5-Star Home With a Heart!

At St. William’s, we pride ourselves as the home with a heart, serving the residents of Parkers Prairie and the surrounding communities with excellent healthcare!

Want to learn more about our consistent 5-Star rating? Contact us anytime for more information.