Memory care providers faced unique challenges during Covid-19.
The challenges they faced included ensuring the stability of their daily routines and limiting residents’ ability to walk about freely.
A recent study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association suggested that people with dementia have an increased risk of contracting Covid-19 compared to their healthy counterparts.
A pandemic that leads to a generation of memory care therapies that can be adopted after the pandemic will provide new approaches to treating Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms.
In addition to these innovations, older adults who are suffering cognitive decline can be assessed in an ongoing manner using telehealth platforms, and treatment plans can be developed in conjunction with primary caregivers.
While Covid-19 has led to positive health outcomes, it has also contributed to the stagnation of some designs in the past. As a result, architects and designers are now adopting recommendations that have been overlooked in the past.
Further, memory care experts are also working on finding ways to improve strategies and treatments. Frontier Management, which has over 120 communities in which it has a large memory care portion, launched a program to find ways to modify sleep and improve the health outcomes and quality of life of individuals living with cognitive impairment.
Telehealth and telemedicine platforms were among the leaders of the charge for Covid-19, with massive surges in demand from providers for technology solutions.
One recent survey found that 87% of respondents expect to increase their spending on technology solutions in 2021.
Montefiore’s patients included seniors living at home and others living in assisted living facilities. The CARRE included a bilingual and multicultural social worker and a neurologist facilitating teleconferences with the patients and legal representatives.
We discussed a comprehensive plan of care with the patient and caregiver after the television focused on his or her psychosocial issues, cognitive status, behavioral, or medical. These plans were submitted to the primary care provider for optimization of comorbidities.
Meanwhile, a video visit enabled the CARRE team to identify and prioritize patients who need home assessments and raise awareness of other safety concerns not addressed in-office visits. The video visits also revealed physical and other safety concerns not included in-office visits.
Rethinking sleep cycles
Covid-19 disrupted the memory care industry with its Covid-inspired approach. Pioneering memory care operator Frontier Management’s Spark program is based upon Montessori-inspired teaching methods, which are meant to allow all residents to express themselves and help preserve the abilities they still possess.
Lesley Durkan, vice president of operations for Frontier’s Midwest region, said its memory care program, Eventide, was designed to maximize residents’ sleep cycles. She believes the amount of time they spend not engaged in programming is as necessary as their activities during the day.
Auberge communities pilot the Frontier program with two groups: residents whose engagement is lagging behind the overall census and residents with high positive outcomes.
Although critical data has yet to be collected to determine Eventide’s effectiveness, Durkan is confident enough data will be collected over the next 90 to 120 days for her hypothesis. Additionally, the autism program is expanding to Auberge communities in Arizona.
New design approaches
According to Jennifer Sodo, a senior associate architect with the Perkins Eastman firm, Covid-19 has highlighted safety concerns for memory care residents.
While providers with small home memory care settings tend to scale down further, now they are looking at setting up groups of no more than eight people. Whereas the number of residents in these settings might have been between 12 and 15, now it’s just eight.
Many Perkins Eastman clients were reluctant to embrace outdoor access due to weather and location conditions that did not allow for year-round use. As the Zika epidemic spread, many clients began to embrace outdoor access more, and the firm is seeing an increased prevalence with outdoor programming in design requests.
Within smaller communities, Perkins Eastman is looking at ways to accommodate visitors of memory care residents better. Specifically, it envisions a dedicated room or quarantine room near the entrance to the building that could double as a visitation room in the event of future virus outbreaks. Guests can be kept safe from exposure to infectious diseases within these rooms, which prevents them from having to walk through different areas of the building.
The establishment of dementia-friendly zones with amenities that allow memory care residents to have social relationships with their neighbors in low acuity settings within assisted living and independent living homes occurs in settings where memory care is situated near assisted living and independent living homes.
To facilitate connective space to enable independent living residents to frequent the outside and shopping, restaurants, and cultural institutions, Perkins Eastman is persuading its clients to explore expanding the boundaries with their common areas.
Smaller-scale designs allow for more flexibility in this situation if a patient is unhappy in a well-lit living area and not motivated to move into a dedicated quiet room.
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