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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : business & economy May 24, 2016

1/23/2014 12:35:00 PM
Family business keeps assisted living 'homey'
Debbie and Stephanie Hillsman at the Hillsman House assisted living home in Verde Village. (VVN/Yvonne Gonzalez)
Debbie and Stephanie Hillsman at the Hillsman House assisted living home in Verde Village. (VVN/Yvonne Gonzalez)

After a lengthy process to meet state standards, the Hillsmans turned their Verde Village home into an assisted-living facility.
After a lengthy process to meet state standards, the Hillsmans turned their Verde Village home into an assisted-living facility.

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - No signs or logos set the Hillsman House assisted living home apart from its neighbors in Verde Village, which manager Debbie Hillsman said makes it "a home, not a center."

"We don't want it to seem like they're in a business and we're just clinical about it," Debbie said. "We want them to be very relaxed and comfortable."

Debbie has been working with the elderly for six years, ever since her mother Maxine started needing care for dementia and up until she passed away in 2009.

"I was at the home all the time with her and the head of nursing said why don't you take our class and see if you like it to be a certified nursing assistant. So I took it, and I love taking care of people."

When Debbie's daughter Stephanie and her husband Joel, who grew up in the Verde Valley, moved to Anthem so their daughter could go to a the Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics, they decided to turn their home in Verde Village into a care facility.

It took about a year to get the home ready for residents. Debbie had to take classes to become a state-certified home care manager.

Only able to come up on weekends, Stephanie said $60,000 went into painting, furnishing and preparing for state inspections.

"It was a long process, there's just a lot involved," Stephanie said.

The state went into the home and made sure policies and procedures are in order, and the house certified for three levels of care in November.

"We can handle those that need just minimal assistance, and those that need a lot of assistance," Stephanie said.

Changing caregivers and moving to find the right level of care can take a toll on residents, so Debbie said as medical conditions like dementia start to progress, she can still take care of them at the Hillsman house.

"We want to be able to take care of them from here all the way through, so their families will know they're safe," Debbie said.

Their first resident is moving in March 1, and a visit scheduled for a prospective second resident.

Hillsman House has one single room with its own bathroom for $3,350 per month. The two double rooms run from $2,350.

Costs provide residents with planned activities, exercise, medication administration, an on-call RN and family nurse practitioner, food, snacks and cleaning.

"Most of the homes in the area offer the same types of service," Stephanie said. "We're right in the middle."

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @Verde_News

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