Everywhere I go I hear sad stories of poor facility care for loved ones. Person Centered Care is the buzz word for all, but does it really exist?  You bet it does and I have three wonderful examples of communities doing it exceptionally well!

Pictured left to right, Kelli Mosely, Jill Lorentz, Niki Gewirtz and Stacie Naslund

Let me start with Belleview Heights in Aurora, Colorado. Located at Parker & Belleview, this Alzheimer’s & Dementia Special Care Center owned and operated by JEA out of Oregon, has put it all together from the beginning. They have a purposely built building like no other I have seen. From the continuity of the carpet throughout to ease confusion for any occipital lobe impairment, to the placement of the beauty shop at the front of the house, this company put enormous thought into construction. The resident rooms come with a heat lamp near the shower to help residents maintain body heat. Sensors tell the staff when someone is out of bed, alleviating the need to wake people up to check on them. There are no timed showers as residents are given options of bathing when and where the time fits for them. Residents can wear pajamas to breakfast and will never get lost, as the building is circular for walking and finding your destination. No one is forced to attend any meal unless they want to join and can often assist staff in making meals or eating at their leisure if they so chose. The staff shares the care with the Executive Director Niki Gewirtz, who leads by terrific example. She manages by walking around and assisting any resident who needs her attention. Niki likes to say that if they notice a person in distress, it is everyone’s job to step in. The deciding factor on care goes to whomever the resident connects with.  What strikes me most is the fact the residents are rarely medicated, as Niki and her staff prefer to use redirection skills first and foremost, and meds are only used to target specific symptoms for a few days.  When I enter the community residents are talking, walking, laughing and enjoying life. Gewirtz also believes caring for the outside community is a responsibility Belleview Heights feels compelled to joyfully take on, as caring for local people who care for loved ones at home is imperative, whether they have a loved one at Belleview Heights or not. All lectures, training classes and support groups are free of charge for whoever needs it. This community also accepts people with Frontal Temporal on a case by case basis, which is almost in heard of. One of Gewirtz’s source of pride is her activity director Jenny, who doesn’t put people with dementia in a box. Although Jenny creates her activities carefully with appropriate steps  for each stage, she also creates out of the box fun like her bell choir. The residents love participating and are able to work the bells so well they have put on three concerts to date.

The second outstanding community is Springwood Retirement Assisted Living  in Arvada Colorado, with their memory community, Nightingale Lane. This 28 room neighborhood is so well run by Executive Director Kelli Mosely that she has a continuous waiting list of 20 or more people. Mosely says that when she is out on the floor she confers with her “experts” who work with the residents because she respects her staff and their knowledge. If a resident has an incontinence accident, they can be cared for by the maintenance man, culinary staff or whoever notices first. She says her staff ‘s jobs are interchangeable and her culinary department head Kyle is often seen playing games with residents and helping them to their rooms if confusion sets in. He has even been known to make pancakes that are shaped like cats when a resident missed her kitty. Mosely says her resident are always “correct” and their resident rights are always the focus. Showing her residents and her staff respect is what she credits for her success. I would add that her kind gentle manner rubs off on her staff and they feed off her amiable demeanor. The building itself is adorably appointed with a soda shop and one of the cutest activity rooms I have ever seen. The design of the building is absolutely warm and inviting and feels like you have stepped back in time to Olde Town. Nightingale lane was one of the first communities to adopt and implement Person Centered Care and the designation of Leader’s in Dementia Care status from the Alzheimer’s Association. This community uses redirection skills at every possible opportunity and excels in this area in every way.  Kelli Mosely has been the Executive Director here for 10 years and there is no one better for the job.

Last but certainly not least is The outstanding and utterly charming community of Spring Ridge Park in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The Executive Director is Stacie Naslund, who I have worked with for years teaching family members the Savvy Caregiver Class offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. Naslund’s deep love for her residents is instantly felt from the moment you enter this 100 year old TB hospital. The quaintness and character of this expansive home, with it’s old fashioned living room, dining room and kitchen embodies the comforts of home. The staff boast longevity of 10 years or more and that is almost unheard of in an industry with enormously high turnover. Stacie and her brown Labrador Colby Cheese provide added love for anyone who needs it. The outside of the beautiful mansion is surrounded by a white picket fence that stands nearly ten feet high and is beautifully adorned with rose bushes even the White House would be envious of. Residents can walk out of any of the doors at will without coding and enter the expansive yard, complete with a gazebo, flower, vegetable and pumpkin garden. Residents were out weeding, planting and socializing this past weekend, activities they often enjoyed at their own homes. On the grounds is a park complete with a pavilion, where the residents, staff and families enjoy picnics, cookouts and Mocktails & Music on Friday evenings throughout the summer and fall. Person Centered Care is perfected under Stacie Naslund’s leadership and her staff adores her. Families of the residents feel loved and appreciated by the warmth and inclusive culture of the community.

In a world where task centered care communities with underpaid, overworked staff and a culture where people with dementia are managed through their day, is the norm, it is unbelievably rewarding to see care communities who are doing it so well. The kicker is that these communities are not the large grandiose buildings that look like palaces, that cost $7,000-up per month. These are thoughtfully built and managed communities and they all start at around $4800 and top out at around $6300 for private apartments.  Stop in and see them when you have a chance. All, will welcome you with open arms.

Listen to my podcast from my radio show dated June 4, 2017 to hear from these amazing leaders for yourself. Part two of my interview with the Executive Directors of these dynamic communities will air June 11,2017. Please let me know if you have any questions and I would love to hear your thoughts. Reply to my blog by clicking on the heading. Share with friends!