“Our approach to caring for residents and their lives is the glass-is-half-full attitude,” explains Betsy Szamboti, Director of Community Relations for the new Artis Senior Living in Huntingdon Valley. “We want to celebrate the lives of our residents and create memories for our families, not focus on what may have been lost,” says Szamboti in referring to the devastating effects of dementia.
Artis is a senior living community devoted to caring for residents with dementia, offering 72 private studios, each with its own full bathroom. Staff is specially trained to care for residents with dementia. “Staff will be selected for their passion and dedication in caring for those with dementia, as well as their experience in the field,” says Nancy Dungan, Director of Nursing for Artis.
Artis has excelled in caring for individuals with dementia, developing an innovative approach, known as the Artis Way, to resident care. Prior to moving a loved one to an Artis community, families complete an eight-page partnership profile of family and personal history, covering work experience, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and more. All Artis staff study the profile to understand who each resident is: what they did, what they enjoy, and how to better connect with them. “Staff also completes a partnership profile to match their own interests with our residents to find shared interests – art, athletics, music and more,” explains Stacy Ayers, Director of Partnership Development at Artis. This helps residents feel comfortable and also provides staff with insight to caring for residents, whether in the mundane aspects of daily living activities or during periods of managing resident frustration.
“One of the most devastating effects of dementia and moving into senior living is the loss of control for the individual,” reveals Sherry Nikisher, executive director of Artis Huntingdon Valley. “Our residents have input on their routine and decisions in our community.” This includes allowing residents to make choices – from selecting paint colors and decorations for their personal suite to daily participation in activities to changing the dining menu and more. This is achieved through on-going staff and resident conversations as well as regularly scheduled town hall meetings with residents, staff and families to discuss issues. “We had a group of residents who enjoyed having a glass of wine and cheese at 3 pm and wanted this activity to be part of their routine, so we made it happen,” says Nikisher.
Another aspect of quality care for dementia residents is keeping them active and involved. “Those with dementia tend to withdraw and isolate themselves,” explains Nikisher. “Through our partnership profile and training, staff can cue residents to participate in activities like “I’m Alwrite”, a structured letter writing campaign to family and close friends, or “I Can”, a series of volunteer and service projects including writing to Veterans, reading at schools, making wreaths for Habitat for Humanity and more. All standard senior living activities are Montessori based and include art therapy, outdoor activities, gardening, pet therapy, music therapy, karaoke, current events, and live entertainment.
Artis Senior Living’s care and facilities are completely designed for dementia care. The building is a walkable, one-story community with four distinct neighborhoods that include a common area kitchen, dining area and living room surrounded by resident rooms. The core of the building consists of a town center, beauty shop, therapy room, and activity room in core of building, enclosed patio spaces, and private areas for family visitation. Artis Senior Living of Huntingdon Valley opens this fall. For more information call Betsy Szamboti at (267) 571-2699 or visit ArtisSeniorLiving.com.