Project Spotlight: Spring Lake Village

 by Brigid Flagerman, Account Manager 

The Spring Lake Village is an assisted living residence with nursing care to end of life. 

Spring Lake Village was previously an apartment complex and is about 30 years old. It is situated on 30 beautiful acres with gorgeous trees and a peaceful creek. When Cagwin & Dorward was chosen to lead and manage this project, I knew it would be a special project not just because of the older residents living at Spring Lake Village but because of the lovely landscaping we inherited with the project.

Spring Lake Village

Pressure, Challenge, and Opportunities

For me personally, what makes it unique is that when I initially walked the property, I saw how large and beautiful the property was. I felt a sense of respect for the confidence my company had in me for this project and the opportunities that would make me rise to the occasion.  

One of the first challenges to start with was the irrigation system. There were no irrigation controller maps available from the previous company, so there was no help managing the irrigation. To make matters less than ideal, we were relegated to a water well amidst a California drought.


Once I was oriented with the property and its challenges and aspirations of what our client was hoping to achieve with the property, it was time to meet the various committees and people we would be working with. This included the landscape and grounds committees. 

In our walks around the property with various personnel, I learned in my conversations with our new team members the disappointments they experienced from the past contractor. I knew then that I had to build their trust and confidence, which would require us to take care of them in ways they had never experienced before. This included not only weekly meetings with the grounds committee but also some empathy and people skills that would be necessary to keep the elderly residents calm and assured as they would see large pieces of equipment and noise infiltrate the peaceful and quiet atmosphere around the property. 

Building relationships and trust

Going the extra mile

We started by meeting with the staff and residents to introduce ourselves to them and to give them a voice to their concerns using an online request form. Then, each week we would review those concerns with our teams as well as communicate back to the staff and residents at Spring Lake Village. 

We also developed some door hangers because often residents aren't home -- or they forgot we had stopped by to see them. Our primary goal was to address these concerns as quickly as possible, keeping them from taking longer than a week. 

More than anything, we just put ourselves in front of the people, listened, cared for, solved problems, and developed a growing and enduring trust. We wanted them to know the disappointments they had in the past were over, we are here, and we intend to take care of the issues and concerns you are experiencing. 

People with hearts

Around my second week on the project, I realized this was a project that would be close to my heart. I had just gone through five years of taking care of my mom. I remember back when I was trying to find a place like Spring Lake Village for her to live, all the research I did, and also her passing. So I was going through this again in my mind, and all the emotions, and it made me very aware of what families are going through in this process. It's not just the person who will live there, it's the whole family that is impacted. 

And it's hard. 

I observed watching people doing their first walk-through around the residence and property and saw their nervousness and their family's nervousness. I also saw people who have settled in and made a great transition, and also those in the final stages in life as well. So I thought of how fortunate I was because I had just gone through this with my mom, and I felt this project was a perfect match for me. I could better understand the subtleties that only a person going through the grief process themselves can see to help understand the residents, their families, and the wonderful caregivers.

Each of these families is saying goodbye on every visit to their parent or loved one because their loved one is continually changing. With illness or dementia, their memories are failing, and they are forgetting. In many cases, dementia or memory loss is a slow progression; sometimes, for years, but it isn't going to get better.

Project goals

Glass Atrium Garden

One of our initial requests for this project was to update a beautiful glass atrium garden located in the main building. This was highly visible to anyone coming into the property. Our objective in the upgrade was to remove an old fountain and add a creek fountain adorned with lights, new plant material, and new tables. This project was in collaboration with our construction department and was a real game changer. Today, it's great seeing people enjoy this area. It's a place of beauty and adds a sense of calmness to a family.

Walking spots

We redesigned two large quads surrounded by buildings into beautiful nice walking spots for residents and their families. This is another area for which we receive many thank you's and compliments. It's just a beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing atmosphere.

Fire protection

Because the facility is located in a high-elevation area, we worked with the local fire chief to get recommendations to mitigate the possibility of fire. We did a huge clean-up as well as two large prunings on site to help protect the property. 

Because of the residents, we have to be sensitive to sounds as well as walkways and work areas. We are careful to partition things off so people don't walk in areas where we're working because they might not have full cognition of the dangers they may encounter. 

An unexpected benefit of working on the property is that we have provided a lot of entertainment for the residents to watch our team at work. They seem to enjoy watching people working up in the trees and doing things on the grounds. It just seems to pull people out to look, and they're excited and admire the work we are doing. 

Our people at Cagwin & Dorward

I often have people who assume I'm a facility manager when I'm at the site. I'm not, but they will approach me to compliment our crews. In one recent example, a person came to me and said, "Your crew helped me the other day take some of my garbage to the garbage bin, and I can't thank you enough."  

That says a lot about our people at Cagwin & Dorward and their sensitivity to the residents and their struggles.