By Tippy Irwin, Executive Director
I start this blog with the vision we have for the community we serve: In addition to providing resident centered care, the LTC facilities will become an extension of the community, offering a variety of intergenerational projects as well as opportunities to participate at various levels in ongoing community events.
I had the privilege recently of visiting a facility in southern Pennsylvania and was met by our vision in action. The facility, a continuing care retirement community, houses those who are living independently in cottages or apartments, and also provides an assisted living facility and a nursing home. The latter two are located in a large central building on the campus, which also houses the large library connected to the central library system, theaters of various sizes, choices of dining facilities and a very well equipped gym. It was hard to tell where the nursing home ended and the assisted living began. Residents with dementia were wandering the halls or the beautifully landscaped inner courtyard, unrestrained. The nursing home is organized in households with 20 residents in each household, serviced consistently by the same staff. Each household is self-contained with kitchens, dining areas, living rooms and laundry facilities. I purposely ate at the main cafeteria where you could join any table. To my surprise I noticed staff eating alongside residents. I even noted a resident very evidently suffering from dementia coming into the open dining room and sitting down beside her caregiver who proceeded to assist her to eat. There was no special unit to lock away those suffering from dementia. I attended a lecture in one of the theaters that was also attended by members of the community. I went to the day care center on the campus serving the two 400 bed facilities and was gratified to see many of the elders volunteering at the center, and loving it. The list of activities on the campus was extensive, 195 clubs all organized by the residents, many of them open to community members. It was truly a vibrant, happy community that provided residents with choices on giving back to their community and living a purposeful life.
It can be done!