If you are thinking of expanding your healthcare center’s services to include memory care options, here are a few things to know.
Nearly 70% of adults will require some form of long term care during their lives according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Your facility already may offer different types of assisted living care, but one area that’s constantly expanding is memory care. Over 5.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Caregivers are looking for facilities like yours to assist them in caring for their family members stricken by these disorders.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care refers to long term skilled nursing providing care to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other forms of memory loss. A common misconception about assisted living facilities is that they all house some residents suffering from these illnesses. Healthcare centers that deal with these patients often have Special Care Units devoted to specifically caring for afflicted residents featuring staff trained for the issues that such residents bring. These units are often 24-hour supervised care within a separate wing or floor of a facility. If you are underutilizing your facility space, a Special Care Unit might be an excellent way to bring in new residents.
Memory care providers assist with managing medications and other treatments. It’s easy enough to forget a pill during the day, but patients suffering from this disease can have fatal lapses of memory if they don’t take pills for other life-threatening illnesses. Special Care Units also provide structure for the day for residents dealing with dementia. Having a routine down can ease the symptoms of the disease and well as keep the resident calm should they suddenly lose focus on where they are and what they are doing. Memory care is more intensive than what your facility may already provide, but it can be a godsend to families struggling to provide care on their own.
What Do I Need For Memory Care At My Facility?
Licensure varies from state to state, but 28 states require a specialized license for memory care. These fees and the additional costs of providing care mean that memory care is more expensive than a similar level of care. Adjusting your facility for a Special Care Unit may also be required. You’ll need comfortable private or semi-private rooms for residents. They will also need daily meals provided on site. A housekeeping and laundry service will help keep the residents clean. Medication management lets residents stay on the medications provides by their doctors. Exercise and physical therapy programs get the body active which stimulated the mind. Social programs and activities serve a similar function.
One of the biggest challenges (and biggest costs) for a memory care unit is 24-hour monitoring. These residents require a lot more personal assistance because of their condition. Families seeking this level of care will want to know how your facility transfers their loved one from their current level of care to higher levels. Staff not only needs to be properly trained and licensed but also be able to connect with residents and their families. Residents might not be able to communicate their needs, so staff might have to reach out to the family to provide assistance.
What Can I Add On To Make My Facility Stand Out?
Getting your healthcare facility ready may require some changes in your building. Special Care Units should be separated from the rest of your residents, either in a different wing or floor. Hallways should be designed to protect against residents from accidentally walking into sensitive areas or getting free of the facility. You may also want to consider specialized areas for residents that display aggressive or disruptive behaviors.
Keeping your support staff on the cutting edge of caregiver technology can also make families more likely to choose your special care unit. Using technology to be mindful of residents allow your staff to respond more quickly to issues that may arise. Placing trackers on wheelchairs and other mobility devices alert you to residents that get too close to the exits. Applying modern tracking technology to your residents can keep them safe and secure.
Matching up residents and technology can prove challenging, but tablets and touchscreens bridge the gap for many seniors. Memory care often means engaging in stimulating activities, many of which are just an app away. Clevermind, for example, was specifically designed for victims of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to keep them stimulated through treatment tips, games and social media. Memory games also work wonders to keep a resident’s mind engaged, whether it be match-two style or even hidden-picture games. Even common apps like YouTube can be used to stimulate brains by playing music, movie clips or cat videos. If it can get a response from a resident, it’s something you might want to add to an iPad in your facility.
With so many Americans at risk for dementia, you have many opportunities to expand your healthcare center into a memory care facility. A Special Care Unit puts you in the minds of families that need specialized care for their loved ones. Managing your residents’ health is a burden many families seek to have relieved. You’ll need to ensure your facility is properly licensed and staffed with individuals that put the care of residents at the top of their priority list. If you’re looking to renovate your facility already, reworking part of it for a Special Care Unit can increase the safety for all your residents and staff. Provide staff with modern techniques and they’ll reward you by working harder and working better. Be sure to dedicate time to resident technology too. Engaging the patients entrusted in your care goes a long way to help them live fulfilling lives.