By the time Brandi Warden's mother died at the age 53, she had spent more than a decade in a nursing home due to neurological damage.
The experience led Warden to a new career in long-term care
"I'd been in finance for 13 years," Warden said. "I wanted to have an impact on somebody's life."
Today, Warden and her husband, Michael, own Premier Living By Warden, operating what are known as Home Plus facilities.
Under state regulations, Home Plus homes can hold no more than 12 individuals, are located in residential areas and offer services ranging from assisted living through end-of-life care.
"The part of the Home Plus (program) that is so attractive to me is one, it's small, very personalized,” Brandi Warden said. “The (employee-to-resident) ratios are much better than traditional nursing homes.
“And they're in a residential setting. There's nothing institutional or clinical about it."
Warden previously worked in banking and commercial loan underwriting. Her mother was cared for in a traditional nursing home.
"I thought she had excellent care, but because she was such a nontraditional patient – she looked like you or I – sometimes the staff kind of ignored her,” she said. “It was like, 'She can do it.' "
Warden got training in the long-term care industry working as an administrator for LakePoint and Via Christi Hope, both of which provide senior care services. She and her husband took over their first Home Plus location, formerly called Mothers and Others on South Anna Street, in January 2013.
In 2016, they converted a home in west Wichita to a four-bed Home Plus.
Meanwhile, they had built an eight-bed Home Plus home from scratch on a lot in Towanda and also taken over the six-bed former Caring Heats for Senior Living home in west Wichita, giving them a total of 30 beds in four locations.
The growth, along with managing employees, has let Warden put her previous business experience to work. Michael Warden continues to work in his family's Towanda-based business, Ace Construction Corp., while helping with Premier Living's maintenance and physical facilities.
Premier Living employs 46 full- and part-time people, including registered nurses, certified nursing and medication aides and house managers. The Wardens’ daughter, Rian Ahlman, is the company's human resources coordinator.
Warden said she would like to grow the company further, probably in Butler County, where the Towanda location was only the county's second Home Plus facility. Sedgwick County has more than 50.
"Nothing fulfills my dream of owning a Home Plus more than having a family come to me and say, 'You know what? Mom was at home here. This was the best thing we could have done for her.' "