A new, state-of-the-art 52-bed facility using the latest techniques in the care and treatment of such patients, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease, officially opened Aug. 1.
The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Memory Care unit in the Georgian Bay Retirement Home in Ontario has been named after the senior scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and a leader in dementia research in Canada.
“There are 25,000 square feet of space indoors and outdoors, with the design being retro 50s and 60s,” says administrator Debi Vance.
There are 25,000 square feet of space indoors and outdoors, with the design being retro 50s and 60s.
The idea is to make dementia patients feel comfortable in surroundings familiar to those in which they grew up.
“Residents can enjoy all the meaningful activities of everyday life . . . a grocery store, barber shop, coffee shop, beach, putting green, bowling, movies and even a garage with a vintage car (1947 Dodge) to trigger fond memories.”
Care, compassion — and fun — are key elements of the program, Vance says.
Theirs is a variation of a pioneering program known as Hogewey, established in Weesp, The Netherlands, in 2010.
Hogewey uses “reminiscence therapy,” in a model village as opposed to traditional nursing home care, keeping residents more active mentally and physically and reducing use of medication.
Once Alzheimer’s disease takes hold, it doesn’t let go. There is no cure and while drug treatment can slow its progression by a few years, the brain will never fully recover.
“Long-term beds for dementia patients in Ontario are hard to find and there are huge waiting lists everywhere,” Vance says.
“CCAC (community care access centres) can make beds available in a severe crisis only. They do the best they can given the demands and budget limitations,” Vance says.
But new units like Georgian Bay’s offer more hope. People with dementia often have difficulty remembering what’s recently happened in their lives, leaving them confused, vulnerable and less confident.
However, their memories from years ago often remain intact. Recalling these can be immensely therapeutic and enjoyable for them.
Reminiscence therapy gives patients the opportunity to meet as a group and share their stories and experiences. It helps boost their self-esteem and provides a valuable connection between past and present.
Long-term beds for dementia patients in Ontario are hard to find and there are huge waiting lists everywhere.
Georgian Bay uses reminiscence therapy as well as Eden Alternative and Montessori school techniques in its own unique model. Eden involves massage and other methods to treat the whole person.
The ratio of staff to patients there is an “unheard of five to one,” Vance notes.
The facility will not only serve the North Simcoe Muskoka Region but is expected to attract the majority of patients from the GTA, Vance says.
Due to extremely high demand, places in the memory care unit are expected to go quickly.
The new facility is an addition to the existing home for seniors that has existed on the Harriet St. site for decades.
Formerly owned by the county and known as Georgian Manor, it was taken over in 2014 by a group of medical professionals who have a commitment to ensuring their patients enjoy a healthy life and lifestyle.
Penetanguishene is located on scenic Georgian Bay 150 kilometres north of Toronto.
SOURCE: Georgian Bay Retirement Home; gbrh.ca