It’s still in the planning stages, and it doesn’t have a name yet, but there’s something very exciting coming to Meadowood. A new memory care center with a highly innovative design is underway. To learn more about what’s happening behind the scenes, we talked to Stephanie Messler, director of personal care at Meadowood.
According to Stephanie, the need for more memory care space at Meadowood has opened up the opportunity for a whole new type of program. Slated to break ground next spring, this new memory care center, attached to the health center, will include life-changing new design features.
“The building will be able to accommodate up to 22 residents,” Stephanie said. “The rooms are all private, and the way it is designed, residents will be able to enjoy a lot of green space.”
But not your typical green space. Rather than bordering the outside of the building, the gardens will be situated in its center. “The rooms will be on a single loaded corridor, with no rooms across from each other. Instead, every room will have a garden view,” Stephanie explained. “When residents open their doors, they will be able to look out onto a garden. There will also be a greenhouse.”
“If you look at the statistics, six in ten people with dementia will wander,” she continued. “If residents want to go outside here, they can do it without safety concerns, because they are walking outside in the center of the building, instead of outside its perimeter.”
She stressed the well-documented benefits of nature, such as greater well-being, reduced stress, better sleep, and an improvement in concentration. The designers will also pay close attention to the garden plantings, so the outdoor space will be engaging year-round.
Residents, team members and family members were asked for their input about their wish lists for the new memory care center. Their ideas will be incorporated into the building design by RLPS Architects, an award-winning Lancaster County-based firm with a track record of designing fresh, insightful senior living transformations, including Meadowood’s fabulous outdoor wellness courtyard.
Much of Stephanie’s input related to the green space concept, which was inspired by her investigations of Hogeweyk, an inventive dementia village in the Netherlands that brings elements of the outside world into its community to create a feeling of normalcy.
Other creative features that came out of the input sessions include: two separate activities rooms with space for exercise, cognitive programming, music, and arts & crafts; an interactive kitchen, office space, and living room that stays a living room — because that’s how people live.
“When my life enrichment team is going to do a baking activity,” Stephanie explained, “they can use a kitchen area. At a lot of memory care communities, they just kind of bring baking and cooking into the living room. We want to stay as logical and realistic as possible. Where do you bake? In the kitchen.”
Another inviting feature will be a wellness room, where people can have a visit with family or just have quiet time. “This Zen, spiritual space will have very calming features, so people feel relaxed when they enter it,” said Stephanie.
All of these features are designed to fulfill the wishes of people living with memory issues, so they can live their best lives.
“The families, residents and staff are very excited about the new building, particularly because they have been involved in the planning. I think every one of us had some of the same thoughts — there definitely was a consensus on ideas,” she said.
As the project moves forward, “we’re still working out the layouts and the logistics of how we want things to flow,” said Stephanie. The benefits will extend from programming to the entire structure of the building. “The way the layout is designed, there are no dead-end hallways. As people walk and move, they will have interesting features to look at and enjoy,” she continued. “They’re not going to come to a door that doesn’t open.”
Opening more doors for people with memory issues is at the heart of everything about this innovative project. Stay tuned for more exciting news as the new memory center comes to life.