Construction of a new Alzheimer’s and dementia care unit at Forest Ridge Assisted Living is scheduled to begin soon.
“We’re extremely excited,” said Cameron Keziah, the director of community relations for Forest Ridge Assisted Living. “This is something we need and something the county needs.”
Before a recent Alzheimer’s and Dementia seminar, which featured guest speaker Teepa Snow, members of the Forest Ridge staff alerted everyone in attendance they were developing a new memory care facility called “Horizons.”
“We hope to break ground within the next month,” said Keziah. He also said (weather permitting) the new addition should be completed as early as October of this year.
The new unit will be built onto the far side of the current facility, and because of where and how the construction will take place, Forest Ridge’s residents will not be disrupted from their daily routines until the final stages of the project.
Forest Ridge is a 60-resident max facility, so the assisted living center will not add new residents. However, the facility will be reorganized to reflect the new additions. A total of 26 beds will be moved to the memory care facility, while 34 beds will remain in the current facility.
The new memory care facility will contain a dining room, and activity room, another nurses station and a screened porch area complete with ceiling fans and rocking chairs.
“I’m excited about the screened porch,” said Melissa Deskins, the executive director of Forest Ridge. “Residents love to sit outside in their rocking chairs.”
According to Deskins, this process began in June-July, but the idea to add a memory care unit has been around since the Forest Ridge ownership purchased the current facility in Feb. 29, 2012.
“We didn’t have to get a certificate of need (CON) because we weren’t adding beds. That made things a little easier,” said Deskins. Although, acquiring all of the necessary permits and approvals from the state still took about six months.
Keziah also said the process was made easier because Forest Ridge could look to other other facilities to see how they installed their memory care units.
Keziah said all of the work that goes into adding the Horizons memory care facility will be worth it.
In the past, Forest Ridge has been challenged in the past to provide the necessary care for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents, and many patients view Forest Ridge as their home.
“For some residents, they have been around for years. I hate to use this cliché, but they are like family,” said Keziah. “It’s tough any time someone need to move out.”
The Horizons facility will allow the residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia to stay at Forest Ridge.
New activities for the Horizons facility are already being developed by the Forest Ridge staff. Keziah said the staff is already considering adding a cooking program for residents with dementia, which will allow them to smell and feel what they are making as their vision deteriorates.
“What they may lose in vision they hold on to in smell and touch,” said Keziah.
Because of her experience with memory care, Forest Ridge’s current Resident Care Director B.J. Johnson will take over as memory care director, while still holding on to some of her current responsibilities.
According to Deskins, Johnson is already considering which staff members would be most suited to work in the new memory care unit. Deskins said patience and kindness are both needed to work with Alzheimer’s and dementia residents.