Memory care program helping residents for 25 years
SALMON Health and Retirement’s Tapestry Program is grounded in the philosophy that each person living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is unique, rich in life experiences, and entitled to friendships, feelings of well-being and opportunities to participate in life as fully as possible throughout the various stages of their disease. True to this belief is how the program was founded at Beaumont at Westborough Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center 25 years ago.
In 1993, Administrator Kate Salmon-Robinson and Director of Nursing Karen Brennan realized some residents were losing weight—a troubling concern. So, Kate and Karen began speaking with nurses, creating an interdisciplinary team and observing residents to see if they could identify the issue.
“One evening, I was observing the dinner routine for the Residents,” Kate recalls. “A woman I’ll call Millie, a resident with Alzheimer’s, was escorted to dinner. As she glanced into the dining room, Millie became unnerved, and turned to walk away.” Kate approached Millie and tried to persuade her to enter the dining room. When she refused, Kate asked why she didn’t want to come in for dinner.
“I don’t have any money,” Millie replied.
The dining room at Beaumont at Westborough had been designed as a centerpiece of the community; it was a beautiful setting rivaling any local restaurant – brass railings, two-story-high windows and ceiling, hanging plants, music, a 15-foot tree in the center and an antique bar. However, while it was intended for residents to enjoy, a person dealing with memory-related issues such as Millie saw the lovely dining room instead as a place she where she’d need to pay for dinner.
“This was an ‘aha moment’ for me and our team at Beaumont at Westborough,” says Kate. “People dealing with memory-related issues have a different perspective on day-to-day activities and interactions; it was important for us to understand how to interpret that and create an environment enabling them to thrive.”
Kate and Millie’s interaction was the beginning of the Tapestry Program, a tailored, individualized approach to memory care at SALMON. Traditional social interactions around meals and entertaining became the roadmap for how to approach recreation programs and day-to-day life for residents. It started with finding a smaller scale and more quiet space for Residents to dine in their neighborhood and grew into something more as we added amenities the staff requested – like a microwave, mini-fridge, etc. That grew into our concept of a “Country Kitchen” creating a small, intimate dining experience for residents to assist in preparing and cleaning up meals, something reminiscent of life in their previous homes. Eventually, we redesigned the layouts of the memory care neighborhoods with the Country Kitchen at the center created a meeting place for residents to return. Each change contributed to improved outcomes, like maintaining a healthy weight and minimizing weight loss, for Beaumont Residents.
“We must always be aware of someone’s strengths and weakness and look for ways to minimize anxiety and help our residents experience their best day,” says Kate.
Kate recalls the amazing Beaumont at Westborough team who contributed to the development and success of the Tapestry Program and notes how much she learned from Karen Brennan. “When we talk about quality of life, recreation and activities are important. But success is really about the relationships we form with our residents and fostering open, successful communication.”
As part of the third generation of the Salmon family, Kate developed a passion for senior care growing up around Beaumont at Northbridge with her parents, developing relationships with residents and learning about the different roles within the family business. She attended graduate school to study long-term care and health services management and policy and worked for a regional senior care provider before joining the family business.
Over the years since its inception, the Tapestry Program has continued to evolve to best meet the needs of our Residents, following current research and best practices in memory care that enable SALMON to continue to develop innovative care solutions. Each Resident’s care plan incorporates our clinical team, the family, and recreation with a person-centered focus designed to enhance abilities, limit barriers, reduce stress and minimize mood changes. SALMON’s unique approach and creative process for the Tapestry Program is in keeping with the philosophy behind the program’s formation 25 years ago.
“At SALMON, we are committed to evolving and improving our programs to align with advancements in care,” says Kate. “I’m proud of everything our team has accomplished to reach new heights and the leadership we have in our Clinical Director of the Tapestry Program, Diane Tonelli, OTR/L, MHA, CDP, CADDCT.”