by Jason Chandler
There is something different about assisted living at the Heaven House, a state licensed group home for assisted living in Oklahoma City, said the owner, Diane Timmerman-O’Connor.
O’Connor also serves as the administrator for all four Heaven House locations in OKC.
Heaven House began with one residential state licensed home for assisted living in 2010. The growth of the Heaven House locations is complimentary to the quality of O’Connor’s legacy for senior living.
“They are all just the same. They offer all the same things. They’re just located in different neighborhoods,” said O’Connor, who was recently married.
Heaven House gives the elderly a choice as to where they might like to live, she said.
“This is more of a family atmosphere. It’s in a home, it’s in a lot smaller environment than the bigger places, the institutional places,” she explained.
O’Connor cared for her mother at home for 13 years. Heaven House reflects the only type of environment she would have agreed to have her mother live if needed, she continued.
“But she ended up living with me until she passed away,” O’Connor said.
Her mother was part of O’Connor’s inspiration to create Heaven House. But it was really a calling.
“God just put it on my heart to do something for the elderly,” O’Connor said.
So she proceeded to do all the necessary research needed for assisted living by visiting every group home in Oklahoma County. O’Connor began all the training needed to become a licensed administrator.
She purchased and remodeled a fine house not to far from Nichols Hills so that every resident there would have their own bedroom and private bathroom, she said. Each house has five and a half bathrooms.
Michelle Freeman, an advanced medication aide and a supervisor, has been in her field for about 25 years. She said knowing that she makes a quality difference in the lives of the elderly keeps her intent on serving them.
“I love the elderly,” she said. “I love taking care of them and make sure they are taken care of.”
O’Connor said the residents have formed a close bond with Freeman. That attachment is common in all of the Heaven Houses. O’Connor is blessed to be able to retain her staff for a long time.
“At first I was doing at-home daycare,” Freeman said of her career. “At first it took some getting used to. But when you feel like you are making a difference in somebody’s life, it just keeps you coming back. I love it.”
Freeman said all the resident’s have different personality traits that are endearing to her life. They make it easy for her.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to keep going,” she said of the continuum of care offered at Heaven House. “It’s like when I come in, Ted says, ‘Oh, you’re so beautiful.’ Everybody has their own different thing.”
There is always a certified nurse aide at Heaven House or a trained and certified medication administration technician at Heaven House. All of the houses have two staff members present in the mornings for a five-to-two ratio.
O’Connor also provides a registered nurse, Vicki Bogartis, to serve residents at all of the houses. She has both scheduled hours and PRN hours and is in charge of all of the CNAs and ACMAs.
“She has certain duties during the month that only she can do,” O’Connor said. “She does all of our assessments and all of our care plans.”
Freeman was hand-picked by O’Connor for her staff when she met her at a funeral. O’Connor knew her sister and was getting ready to open her latest house.
“I went up to her at the funeral. Just talking to her at the funeral reception, you could just tell that she was intelligent. She was caring and sort of soft-spoken.”
“And I didn’t know anything about her organizational skills, but I was really ready for her to try. She came to work here and she has never ever disappointed me. She has stayed the course. She is organized and she is great with the residents. She’s just a loving, caring person who also has some office type skills that are required in keeping the paperwork straight.”
Each house has a supervisor similar to Freeman who is in charge of their staff. O’Connor and her son both serve as administrators of the four houses.
As for Bogartis, O’Connor said she is “straight-forward and tells it like it is.” O’Connor likes that quality and needs it as part of the structured environment of Heaven House.
“The other night we had a bit of an emergency and she got out of her bed and pajamas and came to the emergency,” O’Connor said. “She is just very dedicated.”