The Springs of Vernon Hills
Provides Person-Centered Memory Care
The Springs of Vernon Hills is a 70-bed, stand-alone memory care facility located in Vernon Hills that specializes in residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Tina Schachter is the executive director and explains that they offer care to residents with a variety of cognitive conditions. “Dementia is an umbrella term for memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and probably the most well-known, but there are over 70 different kinds of dementia. We have residents with Parkinson’s, Lewy Body disease, frontal temporal lobe dementia, vascular dementia and many more varieties. What matters to us is understanding the person they were before the disease and treating them with person-centered care and respect,” says Schachter.
Dementia affects the way the brain processes information, and this can manifest in difficult behaviors such as agitation, anxiety, phobias, hallucinations and delusions, as well as physical problems like incontinence, muscle weakness, balance issues, trouble swallowing and many others. In end-stage dementia, the body essentially shuts down, and people need total care for everyday functioning. The staff at Springs of Vernon Hills is specially trained to meet the needs of the residents in every stage of the disease process. “All of our staff members, from nurses to housekeeping to maintenance crew, start with an intensive, 12-hour dementia training course and participate in monthly educational seminars,” says Schachter.
Programs at Springs of Vernon Hills focus on creating meaningful moments for the residents so they still have a sense of purpose. A typical day starts with the staff assisting residents with activities of daily living (ADL). “It’s important that residents get up, shower, shave, put on clothes and accessories that they help choose and feel comfortable in. This gives them a sense of pride and ownership in their day,” notes Schachter. After breakfast, the morning includes cognitive challenges like word games, physical activities such as chair yoga or balloon volleyball and creative events like coloring or crafting. The afternoon might bring a music performance, cooking class, sing-along or tai chi.
“Sensory stimulation is vital for people with cognitive decline. Our activities focus on programs that allow them to hear, smell, feel, see and taste. Music, especially, actually helps stimulate the brain cells and also can trigger memories,” says Schachter. The facility regularly welcomes visitors, including volunteers that run the pet, music and art therapy programs.
One particularly special program at Springs of Vernon Hills is their spa. Schachter says the room, which can accommodate three residents at a time, helps them to relax and rejuvenate. “Residents go in accompanied by a caregiver and are greeted with soft music and warm lights. They can get a neck massage, aromatherapy, use foot warmers or just sit and enjoy the peaceful environment. Many of our residents come from a generation that is not used to being pampered. We are giving them permission to notice how good it feels to be taken care of,” Schachter says.
Safety is of paramount concern at the facility, and The Springs of Vernon Hills is one of the only facilities in the area to have motion detectors in every room. With this state-of-the-art technology, this safety precaution can preclude falls. The facility also has an enclosed courtyard where residents can enjoy being outside without the risk of traffic or getting lost.
During the warmer months, they have plants, veggie gardens and bird feeders that the residents help maintain. Residents receive a comprehensive care plan in place upon admission, which is reviewed by the entire care team every three months. “As their physical, cognitive and emotional conditions change, so does the way we provide for them. We want to make sure all of their needs are being met,” says Schachter. The facility also offers onsite hospice care so that residents can age in place without having to relocate at the end of their lives.
Schachter says The Springs of Vernon Hills has a strong management team that truly loves being able to provide for their residents every day. “We want the family members and loved ones to continue to be the sister, son or best friend, while our staff can be the caregivers. We strive to create meaningful moments for our residents and provide engaging activities that keep them conformable, stimulated and safe. While they may not be able to create new memories or access old ones, they can still find enjoyment in the moment, and that is our ultimate goal,” says Schachter.
The Springs of Vernon Hills is located at 350 S. Milwaukee Ave., in Vernon Hills. For more information, call 847-634-9300, email [email protected] or visit JeaSeniorLiving.com/senior-living/il/vernon-hills/the-springs-of-vernon-hills.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com