Fulfilling a need

Rouse nearly ready to open Memory Care Community

Times Observer photos by Katie Miktuk This memory box is featured outside the door of all ten apartments. It is to be filled with personal photos and memories of each patient to bring a sense of home and to serve as a cue to the resident that that is their apartment.

The Suites at Rouse is about ready to open the doors to its new Memory Care Community.

The addition is a 10-apartment specialized dementia care facility. It will feature a dedicated multi-sensory environment and a private, wander-friendly courtyard.

Current and former board members, health care providers, and politicians were invited this week to a VIP open house to tour the facility.

The idea of the newest facility is to bring the outside in, the main street concept, and have an open concept between residents and caretakers.

“We are not trying to create barriers here,” said Matt Saeli, Suites at Rouse Administrator.

The indoor pergola in the Memory Care Community features decorations of flowers and patio furniture. The floor is green to represent grass and the top painted blue to represent the sky, resulting in an allusion of sitting outdoors.

For example, the reception area will feature a more living-room-style setting — rather than a desk — for residents and caretakers to sit and visit with each other.

The facility is designed to look as if you are walking around outside rather than confined within a building. Walls are decorated with bricks, siding, and cobblestone, not only to give an outdoor-feel but also to signal to residents which apartment is their home.

Doors to rooms also come in different designs and colors as another indicator to a resident which apartment is theirs. Memory boxes line the walls outside of each door for residents to put personal pictures and memories in as another cue, while also helping the patient feel more at home.

A light dimming feature was installed in the facility to allow the gradual dimming of lights to cue that it is nighttime to residents. The idea of night staff wearing pajamas to aid in the nighttime cue has also been dabbled with.

There is a pergola in the center of the facility that is decorated with patio furniture, outdoor plants, and flowers, and even is painted blue at the top and green at the bottom to produce the allusion of sitting outdoors. There will be a library featured next to the “outdoor” area.

The siding, bricks and cobblestone are three of the featured wallings in the Memory Care Community. They serve as one of the cues to help residents identify their apartment along with creating the allusion that they are outdoors and not confined within a building.

Resident’s medicine will be kept in a locked box mounted on each wall of the private apartments. This will allow for a more at home feel as staff will have to enter the room and interact with the resident instead of showing up at the door with a cup of medication. This also allows for the caretakers to keep a better eye on residents and for the residents to feel more taken care of and monitored.

The facility will feature two different room sizes. Alcoves for single residents and studios for a couple possibly wishing to move to the facility together.

The dining room entrance is themed with a cobblestone front porch motif and looks like an everyday kitchen. The dining room will also feature a 115-gallon fish tank. Fish tanks have been proven to increase appetite and decrease anxiety within those suffering from dementia.

Red dishware will be featured in the dining room as a way to contrast the food with the dish so that residents may have an easier time differentiating the two.

The wander-friendly courtyard features a secure figure-eight design with a gazebo, a fountain bird bath, plants, flowers, and an outdoor patio area. Hallways leading to the courtyard will be lined with murals of shop fronts, a cafe space, and a park scene.

Each room features a different design and color of door, these are a sample of a few. These again serve as a cue to residents as to which apartment is theirs.

One of the most innovative aspects of the facility will be the sensory room.

The sensory room will include a changing ambiance and mood, sing-along videos, a touchscreen control system, color changing bubble tubes, fiber optics and a screen that plays different calming scenes. The room will be used to decrease anxiety among residents, among other benefits.

“It is one of the biggest things that is going to set us apart from other facilities,” said Saeli.

The system is person specific and can be customized for each one on one interaction.

Another aspect that puts this facility in the realm of top care is that the staffing ratio will be one caretaker to five residents, doubling the requirement by the state.

The kitchen entry way is decorated to bring the feeling of a front porch. The kitchen itself is set up as any kitchen at home could be and will feature every day kitchen appliances. There will also be a 115 gallon fish tank which are proven to increase appetite and decrease anxiety among those with dementia.

Staff will receive specific training annually, with topics ranging from medicine and the elderly to how to deal with tough behavior, for example. Training will be done in person within the facility instead of working with a computer program.

A major goal of the facility is a redirection, getting away from focusing on medication as the main treatment for residents. The facility will also be a no-hands-on and no-restraints operation.

Suites at Rouse hopes to open the Memory Care Community by the end of the month, but construction may leak into July.

Nine of the 10 vacancies are already filled before the doors have opened.

“We’re at almost full capacity, so that tells us that it is a huge need (in Warren County),” said CEO Kenneth Schonbachler. “If the community has a need, we’re going to do our best to fulfill it.”