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Golden Horizons takes steps to protect its staff, residents

Chuck Lane, owner of Golden Horizons Assisted Living in Crosslake, decided to partner with the Crosslake Police Department and offer a training seminar to his employees. The facility already does have annual internal training. Image from Golden Horizons Crosslake facebook page

After recent news of an incident at an area assisted living facility where an employee was charged with sexual assault of a resident, at least one other area facility is taking more precautionary measures to make sure staff and residents are safe.

Chuck Lane, owner of Golden Horizons Assisted Living in Crosslake, decided to partner with the Crosslake Police Department and offer a training seminar to his employees. The facility already does have annual internal training.

"We are stepping forward to proactively offer education above and beyond state and federal requirements to ensure the safety and enhance awareness for our residents, resident families and staff within our Golden Horizons family," Lane said.

"We are taking a very proactive approach to a tragic situation that occurred in our area," he said, noting the incident that occurred at another facility opened his eyes to the need to further educate.

Officer Eric Swanson spoke to Golden Horizons employees Wednesday, Feb. 1, about ways to make sure an incident similar to the one at Heritage House Assisted Living in Pequot Lakes doesn't occur.

"I'm not trying to make you afraid," Swanson said. "I'm trying to educate you and give you information that you can use. Hopefully you never have to use it."

Swanson said the best thing staff members can do is be situationally aware, which includes identifying all visitors and taking action if they see an unfamiliar face on the premises. He urged workers to call the police department or 911 if they see anything or anyone out of the ordinary, even if it ends up being a false alarm.

"I'd much rather go to (a false alarm) than a call that somebody assaulted you on your way into work or on your way out of work," Swanson said. "I want you to call me; that's my job ... It's not a bother."

Swanson also addressed various phone and online scams that have been going on recently, as elderly people tend to be the biggest targets. Phone calls that begin with "Can you hear me?" on the other line are usually scams. No response should be given, and the person receiving the call should hang up immediately.

Golden Horizons Administrator Pam Elling said in-person scams are also prevalent among the elderly, especially in assisted living facilities. She said scammers will pose as insurance agents and get residents to write them a check for life insurance or some other form of insurance, and then disappear. She stressed to employees the importance of not letting an unannounced visitor see a resident without a family or staff member present.

Swanson echoed that importance.

"We want to make sure that we don't allow ourselves to become victims of a crime," Swanson said. "And also we want to make sure that the people that are in our care don't become victims of a crime."

Lane said he simply wants his employees and residents to be aware of the situation and be able to feel safe and secure at the facility.