Amarillo Globe News had an interesting article about new technologies at Texas long term care facilities to help care for Alzheimer’s patients and give them more freedom. The article mentions The Garden at Childers Place and its "plush accommodations". The 20-bed "neighborhood," preferred over the term "unit," was built in 2007 and recently became a state-certified facility for Alzheimer’s patients.
Childers Place is now one of four Amarillo facilities that are state-approved for Alzheimer’s patients. The other three are: Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home, Ware Memorial Care Center and Windflower Nursing, a part of Craig Methodist Retirement Community. All four combined have capacity for 155 patients.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder affecting 5.3 million Americans, the majority of which are 65 or older. The disease also is the most common cause of dementia, a mental disorder characterized by loss of memory and other intellectual abilities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 80 percent of dementia cases are attributed to Alzheimer’s.
Childers Place is operated by the Bivins Foundation. Residents living in one of the neighborhoods can move into The Garden if their condition deteriorates or they need more assistance. The layouts of the three communities are the same, allowing for as smooth a transition as possible.
The facility can only be entered by key-card access, required by the state. The wing is divided into two sections, with 10 rooms down each hallway. Each room has its own bathroom and shower, and residents are encouraged to outfit it with their own furniture. Each section has its own communal living room, immaculately set with furniture and a fireplace. A communal kitchen also is available and equipped with staff-operated safety features to avoid any harm to residents.
The use of technology is likely the facility’s greatest asset. Motion sensors in the room alert the nurses’ station and pagers can notify staff members if a resident leaves a room. A resident who needs to use the restroom at night need only get out of bed, and a weight sensor placed in the bed gradually turns on lights in the room and bathroom. The lights turn off whenever the patient returns to bed. Residents who need help getting to the restroom are a fall risk, and staff members are quickly alerted so they can come to help.
"The smart-room technology keeps staff from hovering over a patient, and it gives them more freedom," Hendley said. "It really cuts down on (patient) anxiety."