Willow Living Center

View our
featured Memory Care Unit Article  by NCCDP/ICCDP LLC
National and International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners

  A resident with dementia often needs an environment geared to allow them to function at their full potential.  A large facility can be overwhelming to this resident and abilities can decline by the inability they have to process their thoughts.  A goal to meet these residents needs was realized in 1996, when the facility opened the first "Special Needs Unit" in the area.  Undergoing a major expansion and renovation project, an existing neighborhood was taken and designed into a secure environment with 24 beds available. A dining social area with a nurses station and bathing facilities were added and eventually a beautiful fenced in outdoor area with a walk path and gazebo.  This became the environment that provides security and continuity to the resident with dementia. Though the residents are contained, they are also able to attend off unit functions if tolerated well. Unit staff remains the same, faces become familiar and the resident is given a sense of security as opposed to placement on the main floors of the facility.

Each resident entering the unit is evaluated for appropriateness by a trained committee of professionals. Progress is monitored and when the resident is no longer benefiting from the unit's environment or declines with the stages of their disease a decision is made to perhaps move them to the main floor.  The best interest of the resident and the unit is always evaluated carefully.

Willow Living Center Admission Criteria

  • Resident must have a diagnosis of dementia
  • Resident status will range from mild to moderately affected dementia.
  • Resident must be ambulatory or able to be up in a wheelchair at least 4-6 hours daily.
  • Resident must be able to take an active part in at least one of the following:
              Activity Programming
              Behavior Management

              Walking (need to have freedom to wander)


    The family of each resident must be active in programming
    (at least communicate actively with Memory Care Team)

Admission Team

Medical Director, Nursing Representatives (Director of Nursing, Assist. Director of Nursing, Nurse Risk Manager), Administrator, Resident Admissions Coordinator, Diversional Therapy Director, Social Workers and appointed CNAs and family members.

Though a resident may meet all of  the criteria, beds may not be available on the unit.  Every effort is made to place them there as availability allows.

Memory Care Unit Objectives
    1.   To maintain and maximize functional levels of residents with dementia (alertness, accurate sensation, strength/mobility/cognitive skills)

    2.    To allow freedom and autonomy for residents.

    3.    To provide safe and dignified care for residents.

    4.    To use the least restrictive environment.

    5.    To maximize socialization for residents.

    6.    To maintain and /or attain highest ADL skills, to enhance physical health and to prevent
               depression and to heighten self-esteem.

    7.    To create an interdisciplinary team that will make continuity of care a reality.

    8.    To utilize all non-invasive behavior approaches to promote well-being, including
               a Music and Memory Program and Aromatherapy Program

    The Iron County Medical Care Facility is a certified "Music and Memory" facility, fully believing and implementing the program that provides music as a means of expression and can be a "fog lifting" experience that you have to see to believe. We have over 100 iPods/MP3 players that are assigned to each resident upon entry to the unit. Staff diligently researches and works with family and the resident to identify meaningful life's moments songs. Once the songs are identified, a playlist is assigned to the residents player. It is scientifically proven that the ability to process music and song is one of the last abilities a person loses. We are proud of this innovative approach and have witnessed it's success. For more information, watch the DVD "Alive Inside", which documents the study and results of this approach.l

    Always striving to find non-invasive approaches to behavior that comes with dementia, we have found that Essential Oils are a wonderful passive way to combat anxiousness, sadness, anger and melancholy. We work with a reputed company that is interested enough in helping us come up with essential oil solutions, used with a diffuser, pendant and or roller-ball. Seeing the success of this approach has led us to expand our use of essential oils to other residents not residing on the memory care unit.



 Helpful Links:
Alzheimers Association
Alzheimers Foundation
Dementia Online Information

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Iron County Medical Care Facility and may not be used or copied without permission