Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Summer House at Villa Gardens: A Unique Approach to Memory Care

In observance of National Alzheimer’s Awareness month in November, we are proud to highlight this three-part blog featuring Summer House at Villa Gardens, a memory care neighborhood.

Summer House at Villa Gardens Part 1 – Care Philosophy
by Katherine Kennedy, MSG

When Summer House at Villa Gardens opened in January 2016 we had a vision: a warm peaceful environment that felt like home for our residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. We wanted visiting family members, caregivers, and friends to feel welcomed and comfortable.

One of the things that makes Summer House a unique place for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is our care philosophy. Summer House is uniquely focused on the individual, through a lens of positivity rather than decline. Every resident has a private room personalized with treasures from his or her home: familiar and reassuring reminders to help facilitate a more comfortable transition. Equipped with an emergency response system and motion capture sensors, the resident’s safety within their accommodation is given top priority, without feeling intrusive. These technologies give our caregivers an advantage over at-home caregivers by freeing them to interact more with residents in engaging and meaningful ways. A family-style dining room and a patio with outdoor gardens encourage a sense of connectedness – an important aspect of wellbeing. Residents, accompanied by caregivers, also visit tranquil places and enjoy nature in the gardens on the Villa Gardens campus.

Summer House uses the concept of a ‘universal caregiver’ who is involved with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing and grooming, as well as meaningful activities such as experiencing music and art. By bringing in experts to train them in programming and end-of-life care, our team members are given the most essential and current tools in dementia care. With this approach we are able to focus on improving the wellbeing of our residents all the while engaging team members and residents’ families in the process.

Also at the top of our priorities in care philosophy is to discover innovations that engage residents in meaningful ways while maintaining dignity, encouraging autonomy, and meeting each individual at his or her stage of dementia. We seek out the potential for learning and growth, and honor the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.

It is this multi-faceted philosophy that allows us the freedom to explore programs that do not involve medication. These programs include Ageless Grace, iN2L, PARO, the Joy for All Cat and Dog and Music and Memory. Innovations like these, combined with a commitment to continuous education, mean that the entire community is able to focus on the possibilities instead of inevitabilities.


Care philosophy at Summer House at Village Gardens is just one of the memory care advantages versus living at home with only caregiver support. In part two of Katherine Kennedy’s blog, we’ll explore life enrichment programming at Summer House and what that means for staff and residents.

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