A residential living option for people with dementia in Lancaster County provides a whole new meaning to the idea of “feeling at home.”

At Garden Spot Village’s new Meadow View Memory Support community, each resident’s suite has personalized touches. A distinct door, including individualized hardware — from straight bars to curved and grooved handles — will help residents more easily identify their suites by touch. For those who prefer visual cues, each door has a distinct color and style.

This level of attention to detail is partly why organizers are so excited about the Meadow View Memory Support community. The senior living community’s latest addition offers people with dementia an opportunity to live in the safety of a home-like neighborhood with privacy and dignity.

The new $9 million 40,000-square-foot, one-story building is located on 3 acres of the senior living community’s Sycamore Springs campus in New Holland.

The state-of-the-art facility held an invitation-only Ribbon Cutting and Open House on Sept. 24.

Meadow View consists of two households: Amber House and Pearl House. Each household, identical in design, has four neighborhoods with five memory support suites, plus one independent living apartment. All suites have individualized entrance doors with a colorful mailbox beside it. Steve Lindsey, Garden Spot Communities CEO, explains dementia research done in Australia shows interior design features and color has a positive impact plus aids in space recognition.

Excited about the state-of-the-art facility, Melody Karick, director of memory support, says the dementia program’s mission is to “empower people to live their best lives and help them to rebuild their purpose.” She describes it as “resilient living.”

Unlike the institutional hospitals of years past, Meadow View’s intentional design, warm interior colors, stylish furniture and decorative accessories convey the feeling of home. A multitude of large windows capture natural lighting along with a picturesque view of Lancaster County farmland.

Feeling at home

For 91-year-old Frances Henry, a former farmwife, being able to see familiar fields from her suite brought a smile — both to her, and her daughter Brenda Brackbill.

“It’s fabulous,” Brackbill says. “The staff is so caring and helpful. Gives me peace of mind.”

When a resident leaves a suite, there’s no labyrinth of hallways to navigate. The households are designed with visual connections to the shared living spaces, including areas for kitchen/dining, living room, activity area.

Those shared areas promote community and social connections, too. Kitchens become gathering places for conversation around a large island as meals are being prepared. Food is available 24 hours a day. Modern equipment like an induction countertop, rapid cook oven and refrigerator with single-serve brewing system helps make meal preparation quick and easy.

Suites also have a private bedroom with a European design bath and zero-entry shower. The modern independent apartment with kitchen, living room and bedroom adjoins a suite for a spouse to live close to their partner with dementia.

Magisterial Judge Jonathan Heisse, whose late mother had dementia, was among the attendees at the Sept. 24 open house. He says he believes the facility will positively benefit people who have a loved one with the illness.

“There’s no question excellent planning went into bringing this facility to reality,” Heisse says.

The households are connected by Garden Spot Village’s Town Square, which includes a beauty salon, barber shop, coffee shop, chapel, theater, general store and fitness room. A 70-inch interactive touchscreen offers fun and educational games. Another screen displays daily food menus and programs.

Both households have large outdoor porches facing each other with a spacious secure gated garden courtyard in the center. Tinted concrete to reduce glare showcases a small sand beach, splash pad and artificial grass lawn. Sensory gardens and plants showcase nature. There are also four smaller outdoor courtyards.

Circadian lighting supports natural rhythm to aid disorientation. Soundscapes are being composed to complement the lighting and guide people through the day’s rhythm. Motion technology turns bathroom lights on and off when a resident gets out of and into bed.

Creating the right conditions

The names Amber and Pearl for the households come from Teepa Snow, world-renowned dementia care expert.

“Snow believes amber and pearl are nature’s gems,” Karick says. “When a tree is injured, it creates a resin which in the right conditions becomes hard amber to seal the wound. With the right environment, a person living with dementia can still be the gem they truly are. A pearl’s beauty is on the inside. When we focus on the inner person and not their physical impairment, we discover the real gem.”

Staff increased from 35 to 58 since the new facility doubles occupancy from the former memory support at the main campus. Karick said all staff is cross-trained to assist residents in resilient living. Cindy Dellinger, resilient living coordinator, has high praise for the person-centered approach at Garden Spot.

“We honor the person regardless of their health,” Dellinger says. “You don’t quit living because you have dementia.”

Residents moved into Amber Household on Sept. 29, and into Pearl on Sept. 30. Thirty-one are from Garden Spot Village, and seven from outside the senior living community.

Steve Lindsey, CEO of Garden Spot Communities, praised Karick’s leadership in making the project a reality.

“Her passion and enthusiasm come from her deep faith and sense of personal mission for people with dementia to live full and meaningful lives,” Lindsey says.

Other attendees at the Sept. 24 event included state Rep. Dave Zimmerman and New Holland Mayor Tim Bender.

“This will be a blessing to so many in our community,” says Zimmerman, who spoke at the event. “I commend Garden Spot Village leadership for their vision.”

Bender agrees.

“Meadow View is an absolute blessing that will impact and influence dementia care well beyond this community and these residents,” Bender says.

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