How Burnt Cookies Are Part of Innovative Memory Care


Jun 7, 2017

By Danielle Mcgrath, Brooks Rehabilitation Aging Services

Recently, someone asked me if three years into THE GREEN HOUSE® Residences project, I thought we were successfully honoring the model while adapting it for our specific Elder population. An Elder is a person with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve spent the past several days pondering the question and would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts given that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

THE GREEN HOUSE® model launched in 2003 by geriatrician, Dr. Bill Thomas. The premise of the model is that real homes, managed by universal workers under the guideline that “Elders Rule,” would increase quality of life for seniors living in healthcare settings. When Brooks decided to enter the senior living arena, we researched various models of care delivery. We chose to build and open THE GREEN HOUSE® Residences, the first of its kind in Florida, to serve Elders in our community needing memory care.

While I was not a member of the research and selection team, I am privileged to have worked on the team that brought this important initiative to fruition.

How It Is Different

While many assisted living facilities claim to be “home-like settings” – THE GREEN HOUSE® Residences are truly a home. Each home has 12 bedrooms and 12 ½ bathrooms, a living room, an open kitchen, a large communal dining table with crystal chandeliers, a screened in back porch and a fenced in backyard and garden. Elders are encouraged to help themselves to a snack in the kitchen, take a stroll out back or help set the table for mealtime.

Dr. Thomas’ vision for a universal worker is brought to life with our dedicated, highly trained team of CNAs – called Shabazim. Our Shabazim build deep, personal relationships with our Elders to be able to respond to their individual needs and preferences. The Shabazim manage the daily activities of the homes and the personal care of the Elders with tenderness and affection. While our Elders have lost many abilities and memories through their dementia, they recognize our team and that familiarity calms and pleases them.

Why It Works

A small group of caregivers with a deep knowledge and understanding of their Elders – each with personal habits and tastes – provide care and oversight at all times. Our Shabazim find fulfillment in connecting with our Elders individually, celebrating their daily successes and working with them to live a full, enjoyable life. During a recent visit, the Elders and Shabazim were baking chocolate chip cookies. One of them removed the sheet of cookies from the oven, lifted all but three cookies onto a cooling rack and popped the sheet back in the oven. I asked her why and she replied, “Tom likes his a little burnt.” That’s just one example of the caring, personal service and attention our Elders receive.

If you’re looking into memory care or assisted living for a loved one, contact us for more information. We know this can be a difficult and stressful time and we are here to help you every step of the way.

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