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Retirement Your Way: An Interview With Cottage Grove Place

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “the third time is the charm,” and that is exactly how we felt after interviewing Brian Kramer, Sales Director for Cottage Grove Place and the subject of our third retirement community spotlight.

Learning more about Cottage Grove Place and what makes it unique struck a particular chord with us and we hope it will do the same for you too. 

Without further ago, let’s dive into Cottage Grove Place. 

1. I’d love to hear more about Cottage Grove Place. Can you provide a quick overview of the community? 

Cottage Grove Place has a wonderful mission to enrich and enliven the lives of each and every resident we have the pleasure of serving. We do this through optimal care and our unique LifeCare philosophy. 

Cottage Grove Place is the only LifeCare senior care facility in the area. This allows us to prioritize the life and health needs and goals of our residents as things change. Our wide array of services include assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitative care. This full continuum of care is available to our residents and should they need to upgrade services in the future, LifeCare keeps their costs far below market value.    

Cottage Grove Place is nestled in a neighborhood on a quiet street with easy access to restaurants, shopping, activities, hospitals, places of worship, and professional services. 

2. Can you please lay out the payment obligations?

Residents of Cottage Grove Place have three tiers of living options:

  1. Independent living
  2. Assisted living
  3. Skilled nursing

It is important to note that residents can move between these care levels as needed. 

Entrance fees

Entrance fees differ depending on the unit a resident decides to move into. As an example, a one-time fee might be $150,000 with a corresponding monthly fee. If or when a resident moves to a higher level of care, their monthly fee increases but is capped at a new rate; a rate much lower than market rate for higher levels of care like assisted living and skilled nursing thanks to our LifeCare plan.

Monthly fees

Similar to the above, a resident’s monthly fee is directly tied to the service level they receive. For example, a resident might may $3,000 per month for their services and all other living expenses.

Our monthly fees cover everything, like an all-inclusive resort. Some of these services include:

  • 24 hr On-site nursing and medical staff 7 days per week
  • Dining
  • Unlimited transportation
  • Pre-planned activities
  • Moving expenses
  • Memory care

The only items that a resident would be responsible for paying on their own are renter’s insurance (not required), a cell phone, and off-site entertainment. 

If or when are any of these refundable? 

We want to be as fair and generous with our residents as possible. With a traditional contract, if the resident were to move out or pass away in the first 13 months, the entrance fee is prorated and refunded. 

An alternative contract that requires the resident to pay more money up-front comes with a stipulation that 50% of the entrance fee can be refunded to the resident’s estate. There are also opportunities for monthly rentals, to take advantage of long-term care insurance, or a combination of contracts so that a resident may use insurance for a portion of the payment. 

Do you take Medicaid if the resident spends through their assets? 

We do our best to ensure that residents are able to stay in their home as their needs change and evolve. To that end, our contracts do specify that a resident can remain in their home if they go onto Medicaid. We do a full financial review up-front to make sure that home at Cottage Grove is affordable for the long-run.

What happens if the resident passes away?

We take extra caution to ensure that this process is as seamless as possible. Please refer back to the question above for specifics on refunds to the estate. 

3. What is your occupancy rate?

We opened a new wing in 2019, and occupancy is going back up as we fill that building. Right now, we are at 75% occupancy. The average used to be 81% and we have a goal of 91%.

4. What is your emergency response system? 

Safety is of the utmost importance here at Cottage Grove. To ensure residents have round the clock access to professional services, we have a nursing staff on-site 24 hours a day. We also give all residents a life-line system (pendant or bracelet) for notifying staff immediately during an emergency. 

5. How do you measure resident satisfaction and are there surveys I can see? 

Resident satisfaction is really what this industry is all about. It is about creating a home where people can build and create a beautiful life in retirement. In order to gauge whether or not we are doing the best we can, we offer an annual satisfaction survey for our residents. Over the last few years, our satisfaction rate has been around 89%, which we consider to be quite high. You can check out reviews on our Facebook page to see how people are talking about us. 

6. Can you explain the difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

Let’s take a look at a few questions in a little more detail to get underneath this larger idea.

When is it required for someone to move into assisted living?

Cottage Grove Place has about a 1:1 ratio of staff to our 260 residents, giving the staff the ability to engage with residents in a close way. They are able to pay attention and notice things with how many dedicated staff members we have. 


At the point when the staff believes a move to Assisted Living is necessary, they will then evaluate with a doctor and do a Care Conference to talk through options with the resident and their family. But nowadays, a lot of people skip over Assisted Living, since they can remain safely in Independent Living with some minor assistance for so much longer.

Can people remain in Independent Living as their needs change? 

Yes. We also have home health options to help people stay in their homes for as long as possible. 

7. Are you for-profit or not for profit?

Cottage Grove Place is a not-for-profit operation. We are locally owned and governed by a local board of trustees. We do have a management company that assists with marketing, legal, and HR needs.  

8. Do you accept married couples in one unit? What happens if my spouse’s dementia deteriorates? Do we stay in the same building? 

We try to keep people in the home as long as possible, by providing home health care and other options. Married couples can be housed together or separately for memory care needs. 

Do you allow dogs/cats and what are the restrictions?

We are pet-friendly with the only restriction being keeping the pet under 45 lbs. 

9. How are visitors accommodated?

Visitors are welcome and we have two guest rooms for visiting families to use. There is a fee for booking these rooms so be sure to factor that into your plan. 

10. When I can no longer drive myself, is there transportation available? 

Transportation is one of the most important ways to give residents freedom and flexibility in their lives. We are proud to offer residents unlimited transportation with no added cost or fee. If residents have a car, we have an underground parking garage with a space included in your fees.

11. What does an average day in the life look like for a resident? 

Our residents are able to make and fill their days in any way that suits them and their needs. We are excited about our activities calendar as we have so many for residents to choose from on any given day. Our community does some fun outings as well. For example, we took 5 90-year-olds ziplining at Camp Courageous. We also do trips to the theatre. Our space has a game room and other unique amenities like a woodworking shop. 

12. Do you have pre-planned activities for residents? Or am I free to make my own schedule?

While we have many activities for residents to choose from, they are always free to make their own schedule. 

13. What onsite services are offered? 

Take a look below for a selection of onsite services we have here at Cottage Grove.

  • Medical/nursing
  • Meals
    • Residents can take their meals when they want them. There is no set time that they must be at dinner. They receive a monthly allotment that can be used in a variety of dining spaces (formal, private, the grill, etc.)
  • Salon
  • Laundry
  • Housekeeping
    • This happens once per week
  • Laundry
    • We have a washer and dryer in each home

After our interview with Brian, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways. 

Takeaway #1: Cottage Grove Place is the only LifeCare retirement community in the area, meaning that as resident’s needs change and increased service are required, payments are capped at a monthly rate lower than market value, promoting quality care and affordability.

Takeaway #2: Through proper resources and tools from Cottage Grove Place, residents are able to take charge of their calendar, creating a retirement lifestyle that has meaning and fulfillment. 

Takeaway #3:The nearly 1:1 ratio of a staff member to resident ensures a level of detail and care that emphasizes and epitomizes resident safety and experience. 

Cottage Grove Place is a wonderful community to consider for either yourself or your loved ones. If you are interested in setting up a meeting, contact Brian Kramer at 319-298-5398. If you are wondering about the financial commitment, we have a financial qualification form to help potential residents find out if they would be a good fit. 

As always, thank you to our readers for engaging with us throughout this series. If you want to speak with our team about how a retirement community could fit into your financial plan, schedule a meeting with us

You can find the interviews we did at other local retirement communities at the links below:

  1. Meth-Wick
  2. The Keystones at Cedar Rapids
  3. Grand Living at Indian Creek

Also see our post: Considering A Retirement Community? 3 Things To Be Aware Of

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