At 76 years old, Bob starts every day with a swim, but his wife, Gail, (also 76) has memory loss and diabetes and they’re still living together – even at Highgate.
No one ages at the same rate, and different people face different issues. Your health care should reflect that — and at Highgate at Flagstaff, it does.
“What is unique about Highgate compared to other places that I have worked is the person-centered care,” says Leslie Blum, Executive Director of Highgate at Flagstaff. “It is not a one-size-fits-all structure. Highgate takes the time to get to know each individual as a whole person to ensure that we are meeting all their needs on every level.”
This is known as Highgate’s Full Care for All philosophy. It means that couples with completely different care needs can live together. It means that services are customized for as much as a resident needs and not more than they want. And it means that older adults with high care needs can age in place.
Not all senior living communities are designed to care for couples with varying needs, like Bob and Gail. Some might not let them live together. Others might require them both to live in memory care because of Gail’s dementia diagnosis.
At Highgate at Flagstaff, they can both move to an apartment in the assisted living community. Couples Care allows Gail to receive the care she needs — such as help with bathing and grooming — while Bob receives the caregiving support he needs, giving him more time and space to address his personal needs and interests.
“We focus on trying to get people back to being husband and wife instead of caregiver and care recipient,” says Josh Bryant, the Community Relations Coordinator for Highgate at Flagstaff. “We want them back to being spouses.”
When Gail’s memory loss progresses, they can both move to a memory care suite, or Bob can stay in their current apartment and they can be just a short walk away from each other. “They’re both getting the optimum level of care they need,” Blum says.
Preferred Care Partners
Caregiving is deeply intimate and personal. To help build trusting relationships based on good communication and listening between care partners and residents, Highgate works with residents to find a Preferred Care Partner. This means that Bob and Gail would have the same care partners during the week and over the weekend.
Not only does this close bond greatly enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, but Preferred Care Partners also help build a stable and consistent foundation of care. For example, Gail’s Preferred Care Partner might notice that she didn’t eat her full breakfast like she normally does or that Bob’s gait has changed.
“I could give you a hundred instances of how a Preferred Care Partner picks up on something small,” Blum says. “It could be that they’re not standing as well as they normally do or maybe they’re grimacing in pain when putting on a shirt. Somebody who never worked with them before wouldn’t know that something was new. Having that Preferred Care Partner with them is crucial. Care teams partner with each resident and their families to ensure that our level of support is perfectly suited to them, personally, and we continue to work as a team to adapt to their changing needs accordingly.”
The Right Level of Care
Because services are personalized to meet individual needs, Highgate residents can remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. In fact, many older adults choose to move into Highgate while they’re healthy and independent. They can take advantage of the housekeeping services, fine-dining options, and social programming that’s offered and only receive care if and when they need it.
So if Gail has small care needs right now, it’s just as important to Highgate to help her maintain her independence. “For example, one of the first things people need help with is showering,” says Marcie Suppe, Director of Resident Services for Highgate Senior Living. “That doesn’t mean we stick them in a shower chair and wash everything for them. Mostly, I’m there unobtrusively to protect their dignity. I’ll help with the shampoo, wash areas that are hard to reach, and help rinse, but I’m not going to do it for you.”
Yet residents have access to the care they require at a moment’s notice. So when Gail’s care needs increase, she can receive diabetic care and injectable medications at Highgate at Flagstaff. “We work with complex medical needs at Highgate. We can do ostomy care, catheter care, and sliding scale insulin without them being in a skilled-nursing-type setting” Suppe explains.
Thanks to Highgate’s Full Care for All philosophy, no matter what stage of aging a resident is in, they can live a purposeful life filled with meaning and joy.
Want to see the Full Care for All approach in action? Schedule a virtual tour today!