Senior Lifestyle Corp. understands the heart-wrenching decisions and torn feelings that families experience when they put a loved one into one of its Legacy Court memory care neighborhoods. The company created the “Walk With Me” program to help families through the difficult transition.
What makes this program particularly laudable is how it understands the nature of that transition, i.e., that families will need support for as long as the resident lives there. “There’s not just one transition. It’s an evolution. It’s continuous as the disease progresses,” says Kelly McCarthy, corporate director of memory care services.
When a new resident moves in, Senior Lifestyle interviews the family extensively and encourages their ongoing involvement. “The more the family members can be open and share with us the life story, the interventions, the things that work at home, the more successful we can be in caring for their mom or dad,” says McCarthy.
Each family is assigned a care partner—one of the caregivers—who will follow up with them each day for the first week, three times a week for the next month, and then at least twice a month thereafter. This both supports the family and enables the caregiver to become an in-house “expert” on that resident. The care partner keeps a journal with insights about the resident, and helps lead an in-service to bring that person’s history and personality to life for the rest of the team. “Our caregivers move away from being solely ‘task driven’ into an equal partner with both resident and family,” says McCarthy.
The interaction with family members leads to more personalized care, such as when a care partner arranges for a basketball-related activity to be added to the community’s activity calendar because her client has a history and passion for the game. As the disease progresses and the resident may no longer be able to speak, the value of the care partnership becomes even more evident. “The caregiver is able to still converse with the resident through verbal and nonverbal communication….by sharing [back] what they’ve learned about the resident,” says McCarthy.
The above best practice was recognized as an ALFA 2013 Best of the Best Award winner. Do you have a best practice, product, service or solution at your community or company that is advancing excellence in senior living? The Call for Nominations for the ALFA 2014 Best of the Best Awards will begin in October. Visit ALFA.org/bestofthebest to read more best practices.
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