Shauna O'Brien, the Sun Advocate's 2003 business woman of the year, is the owner and manager of the Heirloom Inn.
Heirloom Inn opened in November of 2000, but work began long ago for O'Brien. It actually began in high school, not with Heirloom Inn in mind, but with a goal of becoming a successful working woman. The one person that served as a friend and mentor to Shauna was her mother, Lois Telarole, who spent 40 years in the nursing field. She gave Shauna more than a background of helping others. One honor bestowed on her mother was the "Humanitarian Award" and as Shauna stepped into the working world as a senior in high school it was her mother's work ethic and determination to change people's lives that influenced the young woman.
Shauna attended Helper Junior High School and later Carbon High in Price and like a typical high school kid, I wanted a car and I wanted to go to work." She began work at 17 years old in the x-ray room in radiology and later coordinated the visiting doctors program, where specialists from all over the state would come into the hospital to work with the patients. Many of the patients had black lung and doctors would come to assist with the treatment.
The dream continued after her marriage to Dave O'Brien, who was working hard to establish his plumbing and heating business. They also owned independent housing units and as a receptionist for these businesses Shauna heard over and over again from the aging population about problems they were having keeping their homes up. So the research began here, on the other end of the phone, until one day she realized there was a definite need for a center where people could age with dignity in a stress free environment.
The wheels were turning in Shauna's mind and she began visiting places in Utah and California looking at nursing homes and assisted living centers. She became active with the Utah Association of Assisted Living and studied rules and regulations.
Together Shauna and Dave purchased a closed-down grocery business called D and G Warehouse. "I sat down and started sketching what I envisioned the building might look like and passed on the sketches to my husband, who with an architect, took the dreams to the next level," she said.
Retirement communities, such as the Heirloom Inn, are apartment complexes that provide most of the services found in a fine hotel. Residents occupy their own private apartment, furnished with their own belongings. They live as they always have, but with many new conveniences. They are freed from the everyday problems many seniors experience with home maintenance as well as the more pervasive issues of boredom, isolation and the resulting spiritual decline. By contrast, in retirement community's seniors receive life style enhancing services such as housekeeping, transportation, planned activities and restaurant-style meal services.
"Since every senior comes with a different background, different medical needs and different social needs," explains Shauna," we create an atmosphere and a home setting to match each of our residents." She explained that some of their residents love the social opportunities, where they have friends they can enjoy activities with and socialize around. Other residents enjoy the quietness of the sitting rooms and the library. "We create a well-rounded spectrum for everyone."