Senior Living Rochester MN - Mayo Clinic - Charter House

Vaccine and Testing Update

The information below is related to COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration at Charter House.


We have partnered with a local pharmacy for vaccine administration to our residents living within our care venues. Administration of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is currently scheduled for the first week of January 2021. Charter House Health Services RNs will administer the vaccine. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered 28 days after the first vaccine dose.

Due to state mandates for prioritization, residents living within our independent living will receive the vaccine after it has been administered to residents living with our skilled nursing facility and assisted living. We continue to work with our local pharmacy to arrange for vaccine administration for independent living residents.

Charter House staff will be vaccinated through the Mayo Clinic employee COVID-19 vaccine process. Long term care staff are in the first phase for receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is recommended but not mandatory for staff. For additional information about the COVID-19 vaccines visit:


All Charter House staff and contractors have undergone twice weekly COVID-19 testing since October. We will continue this process into the new year.


Charter House COVID Update

As we have been living through the uncertainty of this pandemic for the last many months, one thing remains clear – At Charter House, the health and safety of our residents always comes first. 

Here are a few updates regarding our current practices at Charter House.

  • Visits: Charter House has a restricted visitor policy aligning with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines.
    • Residents within Independent Living can choose to visit with loved ones outside of Charter House (such as on our patio space, walking around the building, going to a child’s home). We highly encourage them to maintain social distance and keep their face masks on during visits.
    • Residents living within our care areas can visit with family via patio visits, window visits, and Zoom visits.
    • In September, we conducted a successful pilot of indoor visits in accordance with the MDH Level 2 Visitation guidelines.
    • On October 12th, MDH released new guidance for indoor visits. Charter House is ready to implement indoor visits after we have gone 14 days without any new positive cases of COVID in staff or residents.
  • COVID-19 testing: One of our newest and most exciting developments is our testing processes instituted as part of a routine surveillance for COVID.
    • On September 29 & 30 we tested nearly 700 individuals – residents who consented to participate and all staff. We are thrilled to report all tested were negative.
    • In addition, we have been testing all Charter House staff for the past several weeks and plan to continue through at least the end of October. Testing frequency for staff is dependent on several factors such as the COVID positivity rate within Olmsted County.
    • Per MDH guidance, we test residents living within our care areas for COVID on a weekly basis until we reach 14 days with no new positive cases. Any new case in a resident or staff restarts our testing cycle.
  • Daily staff health-screening: Since April, each Charter House employee has undergone screening before start of each work shift.
    • Staff is instructed take their temperature and monitor for any symptoms twice daily while at home.
    • Now all who enter Charter House have their temperature taken and are asked questions regarding symptoms and potential exposure to COVID.
    • The screening is conducted by a new, specially-trained Mayo Clinic screening team.

Guest Apartment UPDATE

Due to COVID-19, our guest apartments are closed for the foreseeable future. We are not taking reservations at this time.  We will update this notice when it is safe to lift restrictions and resume taking reservations.  Our focus during this time remains on meeting the health and safety needs of our residents who live here.

“Thank You” From Our Residents and Families

We’d like to share a few of the many thank you notes we’ve received from our residents and their families. We are feeling the love and are sending it right back! We are so thankful for these tokens of appreciation and solidarity during uncertain times.


“We are the luckiest people in the whole USA, to be living in Charter House, Rochester Minnesota, during this terrible pandemic. The services provided here are unmatched any place, and deliverers are always smiling. We can’t get over it, and have thanked every human being who has shown up at our door. I can’t thank you all enough, we are so eternally grateful.” – Charter House Resident

“Thank you, Charter House staff for keeping everyone safe and healthy during these unsettling times. My brother and I count our blessings that our parents live in such a good, caring environment. With deepest appreciation.” – Resident Family Member

“We want to thank everyone for what you are doing to make it as comfortable and pleasant as you can for us residents. Just be aware, we as residents, know you are taking extra steps every day to keep us safe and well. The Fitness Center employees provide exercises on our floors. The food we order comes hot and delicious often with enjoyable little cards from the wait staff. We have coffee delivered with fruit and sweets. Movies and books we can borrow and now bingo we can play. We appreciate the communication through newsletters keeping us informed. We thank you so much for all you do. There is no place like Charter House!!!!” – Charter House Resident

“Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am for your work at Charter House, keeping residents safe, and the many ways I hear of you all going the extra mile to make this enforced social distancing more bearable for everyone under your oversight.  I am very thankful that my mother is being so well looked after and cared about.  Add to that many other folks there who have become friends over the years.” – Resident Family Member

“I want to thank the Charter House Staff for keeping us residents safe and comfortable. Our needs are taken care of so effectively that it’s easy to overlook the fact that those who provide such dedicated service have their own pressing concerns – for their own safety, looking after their loved ones, providing care for their children, shopping for food and other necessities, and doing all the ‘little things’ that we residents don’t have to think about. I’m sure I express the feelings of many residents when I say ‘Thank You. I’m deeply grateful.'” – Charter House Resident


The Minnesota Department of Health lists long-term care/congregate living facilities by county that have one or more cases. Only facilities with 10 or more residents will be listed to protect patient privacy. However, Charter House does meet this criteria, and is listed on the MDH website. Of the confirmed cases associated with Charter House, none involve Charter House residents, and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 among residents is low.

The safety and health of Charter House residents and staff is of paramount importance. Charter House is committed to taking every necessary precaution to contain the spread. Those efforts include working closely with Mayo Clinic experts and public health authorities, in addition to following procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Our screening process for staff includes both at-home monitoring by all employees as well as screening before every shift. We have been successful in keeping employees from working as soon as any potential symptoms are identified. Our focus remains on the health and well-being of our residents and staff.

Health, Safety & Practice

At Charter House the health and safety of our residents comes first.  Knowing that these are uncertain times, we have changed much of what we do on a daily basis, as many have, to be sure that our residents and staff remain healthy and safe.  We create procedures and change them as needed based on the most up-to-date information from the CDC, CMS, MN Department of Health, and the procedures set forth by Mayo Clinic.  This often means that we make daily changes in how we both live and work.  The following is a list of what Charter House has done and is currently doing to ensure the best possible care to our community:

  • We have instituted a daily health screening process for staff.  Our staff monitor themselves at home and take their temperatures twice daily.  Thermometers have been provided to staff.  When we arrive at work, we stand in line, 6 feet apart, to be screened by nursing staff, answering questions about symptoms and receiving another temperature check.  This information is recorded for tracking.
  • All staff now wear face masks while working.  We have been given specified training on fit and proper mask usage.
  • No visitors are permitted in Charter House; special circumstances may be considered such as a resident in an active stage of passing away.
  • Elevator usage has been limited to 2 passengers per trip.
  • Our dining areas are closed to residents and we are delivering meals to their doors.  Our residents are given the opportunity to order a light breakfast, a light lunch, or a hot lunch from our formal dining venue, and a hot dinner from our formal dining venue.
  • Grocery delivery has been instituted from our in-house convenience store.  Residents are given an order form with available items and their order is delivered to their doors.
  • We have a newly formed Wellness Connection program that offers residents the chance to receive a phone call daily from staff to check on their well being, and to report any items or services they need.
  • Our Charter House Chaplain, Reverend Rachel Hanson, is prerecording and streaming Sunday Vespers.  Vespers services can be viewed on the new YouTube channel that Charter House has set up to show snippets of life inside Charter House.
  • Our fitness instructors conduct exercises on the floors twice per week at a safe social distance with residents stepping just outside of their apartment doors.
  • To limit outsiders in our building, all mail, package, and newspaper delivery has been taken on by Charter House staff.  It is sorted and delivered directly to the residents in the mail holder outside their doors.
  • Coffee remains an important part of our residents’ lives and we’re providing a “coffee trolley” that comes around twice per day with hot beverages and snacks.  Residents are given a card to place outside their door indicating their choice to have a visit from the trolley or to have the trolley move on without stopping.
  • A library cart is available to our residents to check out books and magazines and even request specific titles.  We have hundreds of books to choose from and a significant selection of large print books as well.
  • We have pulled together a DVD library at our Resident Service Center.  Residents have a list of over 220 titles which they can request and have delivered to them.
  • We are encouraging our residents to stay inside their apartments, connect virtually with friends and family, and stay at least 6 feet apart in any distantly social situation.
  • Charter House has set up two important phone lines.  The first gives daily recorded announcements for residents, family, and staff.  The second is the Silver Line which any resident can call to be able to simply chat with another resident or volunteer should they want to reach out while isolating.

For the latest information, check back to our Charter House blog, find our Charter House page on Mayo Clinic Connect, or find us on Facebook by searching for Charter House – Mayo Clinic Retirement Living.

Charter House Receives 8 Awards!

As Charter House celebrates 35 years of helping people age healthily, it has another reason to celebrate, having received several local and national awards and recognitions over the past year!

The eight awards and recognitions received in the past year are:

KTTC Fan Favorite for Senior Living Community for 2020

This is the third consecutive year that Charter House has won this award. Charter House is the only senior living community that has won the award since the award was created.

Post-Bulletin Best of the Best for 2019: Senior Community

Charter House won this award for the third consecutive year in 2019.

U.S. News & World Report Best Nursing Home: Short-Term Rehabilitation for 2019–2020

This award is given to nursing homes that were evaluated by U.S. News & World Report and achieved a certain level within the rankings. Charter House ranked in the top 20% for short-term rehabilitation

Minnesota Health Strategy and Communication Network Award of Merit for “Charter House Magazine Campaign”

An Award of Merit was presented to the “Charter House Magazine Campaign,” which was created to build awareness of what contributes to healthy aging and showcase how this healthy aging lifestyle is deeply embedded within the Charter House community.

Mature Media Award

The Charter House received the Mature Media Award for its 12 Strategies for Healthy Aging, a monthly newsletter created in collaboration with the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. This national award recognizes the best marketing, communications, educational materials and programs for adults 50 and older.

Holleran Corporation’s Choice Community Award

The Charter House received the Holleran Corporation Choice Community Award for being in the top 15% of all senior living communities surveyed in 2019. Holleran is a leading research firm specializing in senior living and community engagement. The Charter House was one of 327 senior living communities in the U.S. surveyed.

Hearthstone Institute’s “I’m Still Here Center of Excellence” certification

Charter House was named a Center of Excellence for its practice of “I’m Still Here” — a philosophy of Alzheimer’s care that advocates the Hearthstone Institute’s belief that people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia can have a high quality of life, regardless of the severity of their memory loss.

LeadingAge Minnesota Excellence in Practice: Community Collaboration Award

Charter House received LeadingAge Minnesota’s Excellence in Practice: Community Collaboration Award for the successful execution of its annual Sidewalk Sale over the past 31 years. Since the sale’s inception, more than $310,000 has been raised for 48 local nonprofit organizations. LeadingAge Minnesota is a network of more than 1,100 organizations providing senior housing, assisted living, adult day care, skilled nursing, home care and other services for older adults.

“I am extremely excited and proud of my team, and the residents, for all that was accomplished and recognized this past year,” says Tony Enquist, Administrator of Charter House. “When I see it all of the awards together on one page, to me, it is staggering.”


(This article is re-posted from the Mayo Clinic News Center)

Do I Really Need Senior Living?

If you’re considering senior living or other long-term care options for yourself or a family member, start the discussion early. Research options now, rather than waiting for an imminent need. The following questions and responses may be helpful in your decision-making process.

“We don’t need senior living. We’re healthy, can take care of ourselves, and can take care of our home.”

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC), such as Charter House, are usually set up for folks to join before they “need it.” CCRC’s provide a continuum of care for residents from independent living to assisted living and skilled care. You can continue to travel and enjoy the same activities while having the benefit of knowing your new home will be taken care of while you’re away. It’s a fact that a majority of individuals will need some type of assistance as they age. Whether you’re considering options such as senior living or in-home care, have a plan in place to avoid a crisis situation resulting from an illness or injury. If you wait, your options are likely to be limited and someone else may have to make a decision for you.

“We enjoy our outdoor space at home, our garden, our workshop, etc…”

  • Great!  You can continue to enjoy those at many senior communities, such as Charter House. Charter House has a greenhouse, woodworking shop, fitness center, salon & spa, and extensive patio space.  But the difference at Charter House is that you’re not responsible for maintaining those areas, replacing tools if they’re worn or broken, or paying for snow removal and yard maintenance. Visit our website to learn more about our amenities.

“We have children who can help take care of us if we ever need it.”

  • That’s great that you have children willing to help you if needed, but wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t have to? Maybe they’re raising their own families and busy with their careers. Make the decision about your long-term care now, and you will be in control of your own future. Your children will not have to worry about what to do; what a gift to them! Plus, when they come to visit you, you can focus on enjoying your time together rather than completing a list of tasks and chores.

Making a decision about long-term care and senior living can be distressing. So start planning now and learn about your options.

Plan Ahead for Your Future!

Don’t Wait Too Long

Many older adults wait too long to incorporate resources into their lives that will help them remain independent. Planning ahead is essential to considering the options available to you if your health or circumstances change. You will have more control when you make time to carefully explore your options and do your research. You will take a lot of pressure off your family if you plan ahead and seek out the resources you need to remain healthy, active, and safe.

Benefits of a Plan

Sarah J. Crane, M.D., Mayo Clinic Geriatrician and member of the Board of Directors at Charter House, describes the importance of planning ahead:

By acknowledging the need for additional support, you will likely be able to continue to live more independently for a longer period of time. If you wait until you are in a crisis, you may have less control and much more limited options. Pay attention to emerging resources that you can take advantage of to maintain your independence. New technologies such as smart phone apps are creating options to address the challenges ranging from medication management to transportation. Be open to incorporating these new resources into your life.

What You Can Do Now

  • Develop a Plan. Find resources offering you flexibility as your needs change, don’t wait until you are in the middle of a crisis. For some, this may mean joining the waiting list for a senior community in anticipation of a future move. For others, this may mean establishing in-home care resources for assistance with daily needs.
  • Document Your Wishes. Review Mayo Clinic Advance Health Care Planning and familiarize yourself with documents such as a POLST, advanced directive, and living will. You can consult with an attorney who is specialized in elder law. Provide your health care provider and health care agents (if applicable) with a copy of your finalized documents. Keep these documents accessible and updated.
  • Connect with Resources. Contact 2-1-1; this three-digit number connects you to a free and confidential referral service through United Way to find community services, resources, and volunteer opportunities.

Click here for more information from Mayo Clinic on future health care planning!


The Difficulty of Downsizing.

Do you cringe whenever you hear the word “downsize?”  If so, you’re not alone!  We often hear from our incoming Charter House residents that the downsizing process was the most difficult aspect of moving.

We have an emotional connection to our belongings for several reasons.  Maybe we have family heirlooms that have been handed down from generation to generation.  Or maybe we have items that remind us of special life events such as the birth of a child.  Some of us have prized collections that took years to accumulate.  Our treasures can feel as if they hold a lifetime of sentiment and it can be emotionally challenging to part with them.

We downsize for various reasons.  Are you moving into a home with half the space as your current home?  Maybe you’re moving into a senior community.  Or maybe you’ve just determined that you have too much “stuff” and no longer want to feel burdened.  Whatever the reason, start early and have a strategy.  You don’t have to wait until you’re moving into a senior community to downsize and purge items you no longer need or use!

In this post, we’ll provide you with personal experiences from our current and incoming Charter House residents.  You’ll also find a list of tips and strategies we’ve created that you may find helpful in your own “right-sizing” journey.

Downsizing Experience. Words From Our Residents.

“While downsizing, we asked ourselves for each item ‘do we need this,’ or ‘can we live without this?’ This was a great strategy for us because we realized how many things we would no longer need after living at Charter House.  This included tools, cleaning supplies, fitness equipment, and our large dining table.” – Amita H.

“Some people have lived in a house their entire lives and are surrounded by family antiques and have a difficult time separating. I think it can be hard on those who have workshops, offices, and craft rooms.  When they move from their homes, they feel a loss of personal space.” – Norma S.

“When leaving my home of 30 years, I started by giving my kids what they wanted.  Then I hired an auctioneer to sell my valuable items.  The rest I gave away to my church. In the end, our children will get rid of what we don’t, so this makes it easier for them.” – William J.

“I had difficulty parting from my coin collection and antique collection.  Collections have always been an interest of mine and I’ve spent the better part of my life collecting.  I was able to sell a portion of my collections, but the rest didn’t sell.  Even though my collections were meaningful to me, it didn’t mean they were meaningful to others.” – Ron T.

“I think we put off downsizing because we don’t want to face it, but it won’t get easier as we age.  It was time consuming, but I now feel a sense of freedom that I’m no longer tied down by my stuff!” – Rebecca C.

“It was a difficult realization that my children either didn’t want, didn’t need, or couldn’t take items I had always planned on gifting to them.  My daughter’s house is already fully-furnished and my son lives in a small apartment in Chicago and doesn’t have room for anything else.  Though my kids didn’t take many items, they took small mementos which made me very happy.” – Shirley A.

Tips and Strategies.

  • Start Early
    Take the time you need to go through your items mindfully rather than scrambling to go through them at the last minute before your move.
  • Know the dimensions of your new space
    This is an excellent way not only to determine how much you can bring, but to pre-arrange your furniture.  This will come in useful on move-in day.
  • Determine Your Items’ Actual Usage – Bring Only the Essentials
    Ask yourself these key questions for each item you plan to bring: What value will it add to my household? Will it make my life easier? Am I going to have a place for it? Will I want to keep it for a very long time? How difficult will it be to get rid of?
  • Categorize
    After you’ve answered these key questions, categorize items into keep, sell, donate, or recycle/toss.  You can sell items through a neighborhood app or social media.  You can bring items to consignment shops and antique stores.  If you have a large-scale downsize consider having an estate sale or an auction.
  • Enlist the Help of Others
    Whether it is from family, friends, or neighbors, it can be helpful to have someone put items in the categories above after you’ve gone through them.
  • Get Digital
    You can eliminate several items by going digital. Instead of requiring space for hundreds of books, consider using an e-reader.  If you have photo albums, you can scan your hard copy photos so you have them in digital format. You can keep your music on your computer rather than hard copy CD’s that require storing.