Belmont Village honored for memory program
Contributing columnist Lenna Scott
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:20AM
Belmont Village, an assisted living community with local facilities in Buffalo Grove and Glenview, is being recognized for its unique approach to memory care.
Belmont Village’s Circle of Friends program received an award from George Mason University in 2011. Belmont has spent the last year building on that program, which supports residents with mild cognitive issues.
“In applying for this award, we wanted to show our strides and our efforts as a team,” said Joyce Mahoney, regional director of memory care and programming at Belmont Village. “The goal was identifying and addressing the issue of mild cognitive impact with a program that can be replicated and sustained throughout the industry.”
The Circle of Friends program includes activities and physical and mental exercise, tailored to the needs and abilities of people experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Participating residents function below the “average” assisted living resident, but are too high-functioning to be in a secured perimeter area, Mahoney said. Using research, assessments and evaluations of residents participating in Circle of Friends, the team developed a program to build cognitive reserve for this population of seniors.
“Current research that is out there suggested to us that building cognitive reserves, with the right stimulation, can be protective,” Mahoney said. “One of the biggest things is that we wanted to make sure (the activities) were effective in increasing neuronal reserve. We wanted to see if we could actually achieve a higher level of functioning.”
The program was given the George Mason University “honorable mention” based on the creativity, institutional reach, measurable documentation of change and meaningful changes that benefit the organization. The university committee includes of a panel of experts from academia, consulting firms and health care organizations. According to the university, “The awards recognize the work and contributions of actual health care quality improvement teams and the merit of their efforts from peer competitors.”
The program the Belmont Village team developed focuses on six key areas: physical stimulation, cognitive stimulation, creativity, social interaction, spirituality and community interaction/community outreach. Staff was trained on program implementation. Dancing was one of the activities selected in the pilot program, “because it uses multiple areas of the brain simultaneously. Mind, memory and body movement all in one,” Mahoney said.
Selected activities had to help maintain participant interest and enthusiasm. Mahoney said one thing they learned through this process was the importance of ongoing activity. Research showed that ceasing activity affected an individual’s ability to maintain or attain higher levels of cognitive function.
“It’s all about successful living, not just living but thriving,” Mahoney said. “It’s that hope that everyone is hinging on that there has to be something out there.”
For more information on the Circle of Friends program at Belmont Village, visit www.belmontvillage.com.
Lenna Scott is the marketing director at The Wealshire, a short-term rehab, skilled nursing and assisted living community in Lincolnshire. She lives in Buffalo Grove with her h usband and two children. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.