Empowering Independence: How The Heritage of Green Hills Prioritizes Well-Being for Personal Care and Memory Care Residents

Importance of Daily Routine for Dementia Care

Expert Training Helps The Heritage Achieve a Higher Level of Personalized Care

Shillington, PA’s premier LifePlan community has always celebrated wellness and individuality, making it a place where residents can thrive in mind, body, and spirit. Now, The Heritage of Green Hills is enhancing its already highly individualized Personal and Memory Care with the help of The Eden Alternative (https://www.edenalt.org), a non-profit that helps the country’s top senior communities improve every aspect of the resident experience through ongoing assessments and training.

The state-of-the-art Care Center, which opened in 2022, provides highly personalized care in a beautiful setting with an abundance of natural light, several welcoming indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and a schedule full of wellness-focused activities and events for residents to choose from.

“Boredom, loneliness, and helplessness are the three plagues of senior care,” explains The Heritage of Green Hills Personal Care Administrator Michele Butch, PCHA. “These are more than emotional issues. Feeling isolated, helpless, and without purpose has devastating effects on physical health and overall quality of life. We’re using techniques we learned through Eden to better connect with our residents, empower them as they maintain their autonomy, and keep them engaged by fostering their interests and curiosity — all to help them live happier, more full lives.”

A Sense of Purpose

Having a strong sense of purpose can help people of any age or ability thrive. Residents of the Care Center are invited to contribute to the community in ways that give them personal satisfaction. For instance, if a resident was an avid gardener, they might enjoy watering the plants that make communal spaces feel homey.

Some residents like to tidy up in the dining room after meals. “These are familiar tasks that they’ve done their whole lives as part of caring for their families,” Butch explains. “They won’t be able to go into the dish room to load up the washers, but they are welcome to help clear the table.”

Others assist staff members in delivering snacks to their neighbors at different times during the day. These light tasks give residents a sense of accomplishment and reinforces social connections, too.

Honoring the Individual

Eden’s philosophy of person-driven care is focused on the individual’s routines, preferences, and histories.

“Recognizing that each person is unique is foundational for providing care that respects personal dignity,” says Butch. “One simple example is that not everyone likes to get up at the same time. Some residents like to get up early, while others prefer to sleep until 10. And that’s OK.”

As each resident moves into the care center, the Heritage works with them and their loved ones to create a personal history full of their biographical information, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. “We take what we learn and create a framed piece of ‘word cloud’ art and hang it up in the resident’s room,” says Butch. “These word clouds are great for creating connections between the team members and the residents. It can be daunting for both the caregiver and the resident if they don’t know each other, but if the team member looks at the word cloud, they can find mutual areas of interest, be it a passion for baseball, a preference for ginger tea, or a love of dogs. It’s a great way for everyone who interacts with residents to get to know them and build a rapport with them. Building these relationships is critical. As an example, we have an amazing maintenance person who truly loves what we’re doing. He empathizes deeply with our residents because they remind him of his parents and he thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world to help them feel at home. He loves to hang pictures for the residents, no matter how many holes he has to patch up later. It’s all about giving them the best experience while they live here. When he walks into the dining room, they often tell him they need something done their apartment — just wanting him to visit because he takes the time to have conversations with them, sharing stories, and making them feel valued.”

Autonomy in Dining

The Heritage of Green Hills is known throughout the region for its amazing food and dining experience. By employing several clever accommodations and practices, the Care Center is able to offer its residents the same level of top notch, fresh chef-prepared food.

Ordering food from a menu can be difficult for people with dementia, because they may want scrambled eggs, but they might not be able to find the words to express that. To help them get the dishes they want, the Food and Beverage team prepares appetizing example plates for residents to choose from. They can simply point to the plate they’d prefer.

“Having a choice and being able to make your own decisions is key to combatting feelings of helplessness,” says Butch. “And even if Mrs. Jones has oatmeal for breakfast every day, it’s important to offer her pancakes — because every once in a while, we all get in the mood for pancakes, and she should be able to mix it up if she wants to.”

Dexterity issues and the loss of fine motor skills can also make eating a challenge. However, feeding yourself can go a long way to preserving your feeling of independence. “Residents affected by tremors can use specially weighted utensils that help them hold their food steady so they can bring it to their mouths” says Butch. “If utensils are difficult to handle, most people can still eat sandwiches. We have a Director here who says that anything can be made into a sandwich if you get creative enough — and it’s that type of flexibility and inventiveness that makes the Care Center such a gratifying place to work. We’re happy to take the extra steps necessary to help support our residents’ independence. Seeing them succeed is always a joy.”

Learn More

Encouraging residents to take on light tasks, utilizing personal histories, and employing enhanced dining modifications are just a few of the many ways that the Care Center at The Heritage of Green Hills promotes overall physical and emotional well-being, and helps its personal care and memory care residents maintain a powerful sense of independence, satisfaction, and dignity.

To learn more about the Care Center visit https://heritageofgreenhills.com/care-center/.


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