By Jessica King
Off a dirt road, in the rural nooks and crannies of southwestern Ramona, is a new business striving to make elderly residents feel at home.
It’s called Ramona Senior Lodge and is a six-bed assisted living facility for the elderly. The lodge, which sits at 15855 Marmac Drive, is the brainchild of longtime San Diego resident Serena Nelson, now a Ramona resident.
Nelson has been in the nursing profession for the past five years, but she also has a background in property management. With the lodge’s opening, Nelson merges her two passions into one — entrepreneurship and caregiving.
“It’s just a really homey environment — non-institutional, I guess you could say,” she said of the lodge. “Every window has a view of flowers or trees, no matter where you are in the house.”
Nelson lives on-site in a small home behind the property’s centerpiece 3,500-square-foot main house.
The main house is where guests reside, along with a second on-site manager, who works closely with Nelson as a caregiver and property manager. The house was built in 1984 by a registered nurse who hosted hospice care patients. Nelson bought the property a year and a half ago, and in August finished the necessary licensing requirements to open Ramona Senior Lodge to its first guest.
As an independent and assisting living facility, lodge guests are not confined to hospital beds or strict daily schedules. Instead, they are provided meals, help with remembering to take their medicines, rides to doctors’ appointments or other outings, and a general looking-out for.
The lodge is set up to host two guests per each of its three guest bedrooms. Though they vary in size, each bedroom is decked out with brand new furniture, a flat screen TV and direct access to a full bathroom. In addition, the house features several common areas for guests to share, including a cozy den, kitchen and in-home gym. Outside, there’s a swimming pool, a garden in the making, and horses. As the lodge fills up, Nelson said she plans to offer guests a full range of rehabilitation services from yoga and water exercises to equine therapy and massage.
Guests will also be treated to in-home beauty services and entertainment. The property already has an outdoor stage, and a gazebo is being put in. Nelson said she would like to bring in shows and concerts for the guests, including acts from local schools.
Other events in the works include family celebrations. Nelson said she encourages the families of guests to stop by and visit and to partake in potlucks and holiday parties. Ramona Senior Lodge also offers accommodation for family members to stay overnight if their loved one’s needs advance to hospice care.
Nelson employs herself, her on-site manager and one other direct caregiver. Once more guests are staying at Ramona Senior Lodge, Nelson plans to employ up to five people.
To learn more about the business, call Nelson at 760-203-3653 or visit ramonaseniorlodge.com.