Making Each Day Meaningful in Memory Care

Highgate at Flagstaff’s Unique Approach to Memory Care

Making Each Day Meaningful in Memory Care

Deciding to be a caregiver for those who have dementia isn’t just a career choice, it’s a calling. Caregivers at Highgate Senior Living have made it their mission to change the lives of those they care for by undergoing a rigorous dementia care training program.  

Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care™ program is the foundation of the dementia care program in all Highgate Senior Living Communities, including their newest community, Highgate at Flagstaff

Caregivers, known as Care Partners, use Snow’s Positive Approach to Care™ and GEM™ Model, along with several signature programs (such as Highgate’s unique holistic approach, purposeful living, and Full Care for All) to care for Highgate Senior Living residents who have memory loss or dementia.  

A Positive Approach to Care™

As a leading dementia expert, Teepa Snow has developed an internationally-recognized program that helps caregivers understand dementia and how to create a life of purpose for each person they care for using a Positive Approach to Care™.

More than just a philosophy, Snow’s approach emphasizes the importance of making each day meaningful for those living with dementia. Care partners focus on four different types of activities throughout the day. 

  1. Activities that feel productive and make you feel valuable 
  2. Leisure activities 
  3. Self-care activities
  4. Rest & restoration. 

This holistic approach to caring for someone with dementia creates a supportive living environment that allows each person with dementia to live life to the fullest each and every day. The focus is on abilities rather than progression with the GEMTM Model.

Focusing on Abilities Rather than Progression with the GEM™ Model

Using Snow’s GEM™ training, care partners focus on the abilities a person with dementia has each day rather than looking at how the progression of the disease has affected them and what they’ve lost as a result of it. 

Snow shares in her training, “I looked at the progression scales that were out there and frankly, they were depressing. So what I decided was, let’s stop talking about people as though they were less.” Snow encourages care partners to focus on what each person they care for still has to give. Instead of categorizing the progression of loss as a number, Snow teaches care partners to look at individuals with dementia as precious and unique, using different types of gems to categorize the abilities of each person.  

Using sapphires, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, ambers, and pearls, care partners couple their knowledge of a person’s abilities with meaningful activities using the Positive Approach to Care™. 

Care partners spend time understanding the remaining abilities at each step of the journey. Unlike other cognitive models, the GEM™ model acknowledges that a person’s abilities can change in a moment. Care partners learn how to modify environments, situations, interactions, and expectations to create supportive, positive opportunities instead of situations that result in distress and a sense of failure. 

A Unique, Holistic Approach  

At Highgate Senior Living, care partners use aromatherapy, massage, and other holistic approaches to help support residents when they need it most. 

Communicating with someone with dementia can be challenging at times, depending on the day or the progression of the disease. Care partners look for universal signs that a resident might feel uneasy or overwhelmed and then use holistic approaches to create a calming environment. 

By using a holistic approach to care, care partners identify ways to support residents by promoting overall health and well-being. From activities that promote physical movement to creating a spa-like experience when residents bathe, holistic care has made a big difference in the lives of Highgate residents. 

Purposeful Living   

Highgate’s Purposeful Living Program was built around the belief that the secret to living well, well into old age is to stay mentally, physically, and spiritually engaged. Part of putting this into practice is understanding what it is Highgate residents love to do and then providing opportunities for them to continue to do it. Family interviews help Highgate care partners understand the types of activities each person enjoys. It also provides an opportunity to uncover activities they used to enjoy but haven’t done for quite some time. Care partners find creative ways to re-introduce past interests by tailoring the activities based on the strengths and abilities of each resident (an important aspect of Snow’s Positive Approach to Care™ program).

Full Care for All

Continuous, consistent, high-quality care takes center stage with Highgate’s Full Care for All program. Fostering strong relationships between care partners and residents is a priority. To support this, Highgate assigns a preferred care partner to the same group of residents every day that he or she works. And on days off, the same person covers their group. Highgate’s preferred care partner approach builds a stable and consistent foundation of care.   

With Highgate’s Full Care for All Program, emphasis is also placed on empowering residents to make choices. For example, when it comes to couples, they may choose to live apart in the community (one spouse in memory care and one in assisted living) or together in The Cottage (Highgate’s memory care community). Highgate’s goal is to create an environment where, no matter what the health challenges may be, residents can live with the highest level of independence possible. Having choices is empowering.

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