Villa St. Francis now offers free CNA certification classes to the community.

Villa St. Francis now offers free CNA certification classes to the community.

Kate McEnerney | February 7, 2020

“We need nurses.”

From neighboring communities to national associations, it was the concern Villa St. Francis Director of Nursing James Njoroge, RN, was hearing again and again. Over the past few years, a nationwide nursing shortage has left communities short-staffed, nurses overworked, and quality care difficult to maintain. And the shortage isn’t going anywhere.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, more than half of the RN workforce is over 50, with over 1 million registered nurses reaching retirement age in the next 10 years (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). Meanwhile, baby boomers are hitting retirement age, and the future demand for qualified nursing care is expected to skyrocket, with the senior population expected to almost double over the next 30 years (US Census Bureau). 

These statistics have been felt in the Villa St. Francis community. “We have many tenured, talented nursing team members who have been with us for years, but recently, we’ve seen the influx of similar applicants start to slow,” explains Villa St. Francis Director of Human Resources Kendra Unruh. 

Discussions about the situation between Njoroge, Unruh, and the rest of the leadership team, kept coming back to the Villa St. Francis mission: providing care to those in need with compassion, excellence, and dignity, regardless of their financial means. “We started to realize that many of our most valuable clinical team members joined our team years ago as CMAs who eventually worked their way through CNA training, and even through nursing school,” explained Njoroge. “That dedication and commitment to growth, paired with an environment that supported it, created incredible nurses who have been serving Villa residents for decades.” Njoroge noted that on the other hand, there were many Villa St. Francis employees who had the dedication to grow, but were prevented from doing so by outside factors. 

“From finances, to family commitments, to transportation, there are many reasons that signing up for a CNA class at the local community college can seem impossible.”

That’s when it clicked. “We believe that finances should never prevent someone from receiving compassionate, 5-star care,” said Unruh, “so why should they prevent someone from providing it?” 

Njoroge reached out to Michael Hays, Education Administrator for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, to discuss the possibility of certifying Villa St. Francis to offer free, on-campus CNA classes and certification. Villa St. Francis House Supervisor Jeremiah Kuria, RN, had been teaching a CNA training course through Johnson County Community College for over seven years, and was thrilled at the opportunity to bring that training to the Villa community. Within a few short weeks, the concept was approved and planning for the first Villa St. Francis CNA Training Class began. 

“Right away, we knew it was important for this to be bigger than us,” explained Villa St. Francis Director of Clinical Operations, Duke Ondieki, RN. The team decided the program would be open not just to Villa St. Francis team members, but also to the general public. Graduates are welcome to apply for a position at Villa St. Francis, or to take their new certifications to another communities, with no contracts, incentives, or loopholes. 

“If we train people in our Villa mission and values, they grow developing that culture, and the mission will be ingrained in them,” explained Njoroge. “We want this program to improve care and ease the staffing problem throughout our greater community, and to empower people with a heart for caregiving to build a career doing what they love.”

The six-week pilot program began in October of 2019, and in late November, five of the first eight students passed their state CNA certification tests. All five have since applied and been hired onto the Villa St. Francis team. The second round of the program began last week, with another scheduled for later this spring. While the program is currently on a wait list, applications are still being accepted.

For more information on how you or a loved one can apply for this program, or to learn more about Villa St. Francis’ dedication to changing the game in senior care, send us a message today at

New Hospice Wing Coming to Villa St. Francis

New Hospice Wing Coming to Villa St. Francis

Kate McEnerney | January 10, 2020

If you’ve been around the Villa St. Francis campus over the past few months, you’ve likely noticed a hard hat or two among the scrubs and smiling faces. From the new roof to the bathroom renovations, the support of our community has enabled us to make a wide variety of updates to our Olathe campus, helping to make Villa residents’ home more beautiful, more comfortable, and more supportive of social gatherings and family visits. But the work going on at the end of our rehabilitation neighborhood is far more than a facelift.

Last September, we began construction on the new hospice wing at Villa St. Francis. The wing includes four private resident suites, a conference room for meetings between staff and families, a kitchen, a chapel, and a private entrance and lobby for families to come and go as they please without passing through the hustle and bustle of the Villa St. Francis long term care, short term rehab, and skilled memory care community. As part of the pro-life mission of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Villa St. Francis is dedicated to providing a reverent, loving environment for end-of-life care. The hospice wing, located at the end of our existing 800 Neighborhood, will allow us to live out our mission even more fully, serving Villa St. Francis residents with the same level of compassion, excellence, and dignity by enhancing that loving environment.

Construction of the new hospice wing is expected to be complete early this spring. A big thank you to Barb and Greg Trum, and to all others whose generosity and initiative have made this project possible!

For more information on wing, or on Villa St. Francis’ other 5-star offerings, send us a message or give us a call today at 913-829-5201.

What does it mean to be a 5-star community?

Villa St. Francis was recently rated 5 stars overall by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services! Which means we’re doing something right… Right?

Right. But if you’re like many people, some of these rankings, ratings, and approval scores might seem so common, they’ve lost a bit of their meaning. The good news is, this rating matters. Villa St. Francis RN MDS Specialist Kacie Lynn recently sat down to discuss the CMS, their rating system, and the hard work and dedication to resident care it’s taken #TeamVilla to earn their best rating.

What’s CMS?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is not just your run-of-the-mill review site. It’s a government agency, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that assist with healthcare coverage throughout the United States. Along with other goals, CMS works with senior care providers to reduce disparities, fraud, and abuse, strengthen program integrity, and provide incentives that tie to payments.

What is their star rating all about?

CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers easily compare nursing homes, and to help identify areas about which they may want to ask questions. Specifically, CMS looks at three categories:

  1. Health inspections conducted by their own inspectors,
  2. Staffing as it relates to the number of care hours provided to each resident each day by nursing staff, and
  3. Quality measures, which looks at a variety of indicators of how well a community is caring for residents’ physical and clinical needs.

Scores in these three categories come together to create one overall star rating anywhere from one (worst) to five (best).

Got it. So a 5-star rating means CMS thinks Villa St. Francis is doing something right. But what does that mean for my loved one?

A five-star rating means our residents are well taken care of. We do a good job of keeping residents healthy, happy, and independent, and preventing re-hospitalizations. Einstein said it best – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. To achieve better-than-average outcomes for our residents, we’re always on board to do things a little differently.

From my clinical perspective, there are a few key points that really highlight the Villa St. Francis difference.

We manage medications well.

There’s a lot of talk these days, and rightly so, about the dangers of antipsychotic medications, and fear that communities might use medication to minimize difficult behaviors and make residents easier for the staff to manage. We’re proud to be leading the pack in decreasing the need for these medications through interventions, programming, and staffing.

We have a psychologist on our team who visits residents on a weekly basis – something many communities provide quarterly or monthly at best. We have a Life Enrichment Coordinator for each neighborhood who tailors our programming to meet each resident’s needs, abilities, likes, and dislikes. We have a nurse practitioner on our team who’s in the building full-time Monday through Friday to help us spot symptoms and anticipate potential health issues before they become problems.

Our intensive Care Plan program allows us to work together as an interdisciplinary team, along with resident family members, to create an environment personalized to meet each resident’s unique tastes, goals, and medical needs. When a resident joins our community who has previously been prescribed a variety of medications, we use these quarterly Care Plan meetings to help us pinpoint potential alternatives for coping with pain, mental health issues, and other chronic problems through diet, exercise, social activities, spiritual health, and more.

We keep residents safe.

From our balance classes and therapy programming, to our above-average staffing levels for nurses, nursing assistants, and physical therapists, Villa St. Francis residents are less likely to fall and get hurt than others, both state-wide and nationally. Having more team members on board translates to more physical therapy time and strength building personally tailored towards each resident, increasing a resident’s ability to walk steadily, move independently, and catch themselves when they do miss a step. Additional staff also leads to additional assistance with direct needs, more time and attention, and even safer, more efficient living spaces.

We minimize pain – maximizing quality of life.

In 2018, the Kansas average for residents self-reporting moderate to severe pain was 17.6%. At Villa St. Francis, that number was 5.7%. If a Villa resident is experiencing pain, we take care of it. While medication is at times necessary, we have a variety of non-pharmacological therapies and interventions we use to manage pain as well. From our Life Enrichment programming, which includes everything from deep breathing exercises and mindfulness classes to state-of-the-art interventions like diathermy, hydrocollators, and ultrasound therapy, to the high-quality pressure relieving beds we provide, we look at pain holistically and work to minimize it accordingly.

In summary, the overall 5-star rating is so much more than just another stamp of approval. It’s a reflection of what five years of consistency in leadership has empowered our team to do for residents. It’s the result of our mission being lived out tangibly. It shows that we’re not just checking the boxes – that we’re focused on the big picture, the whole person, and the little things that can make a big difference. It’s an official acknowledgement of what our team, our residents, and our families already know – that the way we do things here provides a happier, healthier way of life for those we serve.

Learn more by scheduling a tour today! Send us an email at, or give us a call at (913) 829-5201.

KMBZ Experts in the News: What To Expect During the Admissions Process

KMBZ Experts In The News: What to Expect During the Admissions Process

Villa St. Francis Assistant Director of Nursing Taylor Lies Discusses Admissions Process with KMBZ’s Dan Weinbaum
KMBZ | July 3, 2019

Click here to listen to the full podcast at!

Within a couple of days of moving in, each new resident attends an initial care meeting with family where an interdisciplinary team that includes a social worker, activities coordinator, community relations manager and nurse to discuss everything from clinical needs to lifestyle choices.

Lies said these meetings happen “as close to an admission as we can get it.” The care team learns everything from how the resident prefers their shower and wants them to administer medications to what they want for breakfast at what time.

They even ask how much communication they would like to receive from Villa St. Francis or if they would rather be left alone and ask questions when they have them. The goal is to make new residents comfortable from the very beginning.

“Typically we’d like to get some information before someone needs our long term care services. We want to meet the family, meet the potential resident, get an idea of what their current environment is like and decide if we can make it work in our environment. We want to make sure we have a good match,” said Lies.

This investment in taking the time to learn as much as possible about the resident’s needs ensures a smooth transition for them and their family. “Maybe they expect their oatmeal in the morning precisely at 5 am. Little things like that when moving into a new place can be so huge,” she told KMBZ during her interview in the Kansas City Morning News.

If you call Villa St. Francis looking for a place for your Mom or Dad the very first conversation you have will be with an experienced and compassionate admissions coordinator. There is an initial survey to determine lifestyle and clinical needs, then typically a tour of the building and an invitation to the potential resident to spend a day and see how they fit in.

In many cases, a family member has served as the main care provider prior to this transition. They may have been there with them in the home. It might be difficult to accept moving to a new community with new people to care for them so it’s important to maintain continuity.

Lies told Weinbaum, “We want to mold their care into something familiar that makes the family feel assured that their parent will be cared for just as well as when they were at home. Team members become advocates for the loved one who provided care. I work at Villa St. Francis because I trust the care and the staff and love going to work every day. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I’m going to see my family. Helping residents live a full life is such a big part of what I do every day.”

For more information, listen to the full podcast here. Or, send us a message to schedule your tour today!

KMBZ Experts in the News: Understanding the Continuum of Care

KMBZ Experts in the News: Understanding the Continuum of Care

Villa St. Francis’ Tiffany Clair Dispenses Advice on How Adult Children Should Discuss Long Term Care with Aging Parents
KMBZ | April 22, 2019

Click here to listen to the full podcast at!

After over 20 years in the healthcare industry, the Director of Admissions & Community Relations at Villa St. Francis has a lot to say about having one of the most difficult conversations in your life.

In her exclusive interview with reporter Dan Weinbaum, she told KMBZ listeners that the time to talk to your parents about long term care isn’t in the middle of a crisis. “Ask what their wishes are before the need arises,” she said.

Clair suggests asking your family member, “If a situation were to come up, where would you want to go?” She said this gives them a sense of control over the care they’ll receive when that time comes. She encourages family members to tour different communities so they can learn about their parent’s likes, dislikes, and priorities. That way, if the time comes where they’re not able to make that choice on their own, the family is more relaxed and confident about making choices for them.

When working with families, she tries to simplify the search process by asking how much help or care the loved one needs. She acknowledges that there are so many options it can be overwhelming to navigate the long term care landscape. From independent living and assisted living to memory care or in-home care, there are a lot of decisions to make.

“The great news is that over the years we’ve been able to personalize the different stages of life to help tailor options to individual needs,” she said. This makes the decision more of a turnkey process. 

She said that her talented Admissions Coordinator and her dedicated team stands with the family and holds their hands through the entire process. “We know the family. We know the residents and we want to make sure that Villa St. Francis is the right place for them.”

For more information, listen to the full podcast here. Or, send us a message to schedule your tour today!