Oceana Memory Care at Inspīr offers you a new way to care for your loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It provides exceptional care and life enrichment opportunities for them, along with expert guidance and support for you. Our evidence-based approach to memory care is integrative, intentional, interdisciplinary, intimate, and individualized. It includes personalized, wellness-focused lifestyle programming, customized care plans, and a highly trained staff—all in a therapeutic and secure setting. This assures that our residents get the most out of every moment, every day.
The month of September is World Alzheimer’s Month, so we sat down with Oceana Program Director Susanne Bengtsson to talk about the Oceana Memory Care program at Inspīr, and her knowledge in the field of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
What is it about the Oceana Memory Care program that you are proud of? Why do we, and why will we, stand out?
I am proud of Inspīr’s philosophy of intentional living and person-centered care. From a clinical perspective, our focus will be on health and wellness. We aspire to deliver the highest level of person-centered care in collaboration with our care partners—not just the resident’s primary care physician, but all of our care partners who will be at Inspīr to provide services, including podiatry, audiology, dentistry, behavioral health, PT/OT, to name a few. We also want to promote holistic health through our collaboration with Namaste New York. Namaste’s instructors will be at Inspīr to conduct group fitness classes as part of the rhythm of each day, to further promote physical and mental well-being using techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, and aromatherapy.
As dementia care partners, we acknowledge that there’s a range of human needs that we all have. To that end, we want to ensure that our residents are engaged, and that they feel a sense of purpose and belonging. That’s why we are basing everything we do on Inspīr’s Nine Core Elements. We want to engage the senses through movement, art and music, brain healthy activities, and brain healthy foods. We want to maintain connections with family and community. We want to connect with nature by utilizing all of the green spaces that surround us, whether it’s in the building or the many surrounding parks and outdoor venues. And finally, we want to make our residents laugh, because laughter is the best medicine.
Tell us about some of the features on the Oceana floors that help residents—what about communal living areas? How are they a benefit, and why?
The Oceana floors are set up for communal living in what we call a “small home” model. The floors are easy for our residents to navigate, a feature that will make them feel safe and at home in their environment, and ensure that transitions between experiences (programs) and meals will be seamless. The small-home model also focuses on providing sensory experiences through the open living room/dining room concept, and the open kitchen that will enable our residents to see, smell, hear, and partake in their culinary experiences. The Oceana floors are decorated in warm and calming colors and textures that are soft and inviting. And last, we have the ability to stay connected to nature by bringing the outdoors in. Each Oceana floor features big windows overlooking window boxes—or window gardens, as we like to call them—that provide a sense of calm. The window gardens can be enjoyed by our residents and used by our experience team for those who enjoy gardening, but they also provide a sensory experience—being able to observe nature up close and personal and enjoy the aroma of the many different herbs and plants that grow there.
Why is our Allī Technology Suite such an important part of the Oceana program?
Staying connected with others is essential to the quality of life for a person living with a dementia. Research shows that people living with dementia can recall how an event made them feel, even if they are no longer able to remember faces and names. Technology helps us maintain and enhance those connections. The temi robots, for example, have made staying in touch with loved ones easier than ever. Temi can visit a resident in his or her apartment, and can schedule a video call with a loved one. Eversound technology drowns out background noise, and makes it easier for our residents to hear and therefore enjoy a specific program. Rendever virtual reality headsets enable our residents to travel and experience places both near and far. For instance, taking a trip back to visit your childhood home via Google Earth, or revisiting a favorite destination—maybe the place where you went to college or went on your honeymoon. This is great because we know that reminiscing and revisiting favorite memories enhances the emotional well-being of a person living with a dementia.
When a new Memory Care resident arrives, what do you do to make the family and resident feel comfortable? Do you have some fail-safe techniques that help everyone adjust?
We understand that each and every resident is a unique person and that no single technique will work for everybody. In fact, we have an entire toolbox full of techniques based on Habilitation Therapy that we can and will use to customize our approach for each resident. For those who don’t know, Habilitation Therapy is an evidence-based, non-medical, person-centered approach to care partnering, where emphasis is placed on a person’s strengths rather than on their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. All Inspīr associates will be trained on Habilitation Therapy, and it will serve as our guide on how to make our new residents and their families feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. We will also be investing a lot of time in getting to know our residents prior to moving in. Inspīr has a thorough 360-degree assessment, which includes a holistic perspective to get to know the individual we are caring for, and will remain a living breathing tool for continued connection and engagement.
We recognize that our residents are the experts on their own lives, their health, their needs, and their goals, and we will be placing a lot of emphasis on collaborating with them in order to provide the best possible experience right from the start. To that end, we have a golden rule: We say that we must know at least 100 things about each resident, because knowing, understanding, and paying attention to the goals and needs of a new resident is ultimately what is going to help them adjust, and make them feel safe and well cared for.
When possible, and depending on specific residents, how are you looking forward to utilizing the outside community of New York City for residents?
I am very excited about our location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and all of the opportunities we have for exploring some of NYC’s greatest parks and cultural institutions right at our doorstep. We have Carl Schurz Park right around the corner, and the East River Promenade and Central Park just a few blocks away. Together with our Experience Team, we will be offering daily outings to the great outdoors and to a number of the cultural institutions in the city with whom we are collaborating to provide programming for our Oceana residents, including 92Y, the Jewish Museum, Sing For Your Seniors, Horticultural Therapy programs, and so much more.
How important is it for you to have ongoing relationships and alliances with experts on Alzheimer’s and dementia to keep you abreast of new or emerging therapies and programs?
As a social worker and Certified Dementia Practitioner, I have taken an oath to “do no harm and to continue to learn and grow,” so for me, personally, it is extremely important to stay abreast of any new or emerging therapies and programs that might benefit and possibly improve the lives of those living with a dementia. The entire Inspīr team continuously collaborates with a wide range of professional organizations and partners, and on a more personal level, I am staying abreast of new developments pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through the Alzheimer’s Association, through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, and through Caring Kind, where I have recently been nominated as one of their Caregiver Champions, designated to help implement change in the Alzheimer’s community.
Every member of the Inspīr Oceana Memory Care team receives advanced emotion-based dementia training and certification from the Alzheimer’s Association. Our staff is taught to understand and focus on an individual’s capabilities, as opposed to what they have lost. Through this approach, our staff is able to help reduce difficult symptoms and promote positive emotions for our residents. Additionally, our staff is trained, as are all our other associates, under the Forbes Travel Guide standards, so that they deliver five-star concierge service. It’s care, in a new way.