Glenmeadow to Unveil New Space for Residents and Staff, Dedicated to Peace, Tranquility
Fraser’s was designed for residents living with dementia; ribbon cutting to be held March 12 at 3 p.m.
LONGMEADOW—Glenmeadow will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, March 12 at 3 p.m. to officially open Fraser’s, a new haven for residents living with dementia that will enhance their sense of purpose.
The space on the second floor of the life plan community was created to support residents living with dementia or other cognitive loss and is designed for them to engage with staff in activities tailored to their specific interests.
Made possible by a gift from two brothers whose mother was a Glenmeadow resident, the space is dedicated to peace, tranquility, and restoration and will also be open and available for staff and all residents seeking a quiet place to decompress and rejuvenate.
“We are very grateful for the gift from family members so that we can continue to enhance our programming. Philanthropy is one avenue that allows us to continue to provide offerings that are innovative and fresh,” said Anne Thomas, president and CEO of Glenmeadow.
Thomas also noted, “We are committed to enhancing our services for people living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.”
Laura Lavoie, Glenmeadow’s director of life enrichment and a certified independent Positive Approach to Care™ (PAC) trainer, said after staff presents an overview on the goals of the room, those at the ribbon cutting will also observe a demonstration on the use of the room’s resources. Visitors from the public will learn about opportunities to volunteer with residents at Glenmeadow.
Lavoie said one key goal of Fraser’s is to make people living with dementia feel valued and appreciated. The peaceful space will offer a center for residents to engage with staff using resources that allow them to complete tasks and experience pride and productivity.
Along one wall inside Fraser’s are cabinets that hold activity kits to meet a range of different interests. Former contractors, for instance, might enjoy sanding wooden blocks or engaging with a staff member to build something with PVC pipe. A retired accountant could work with a calculator, accounting registers, and receipts. There are quizzes for former teachers to grade.
Residents will not use these materials as they might use items in craft projects. Instead, there will be a deliberate focus on how the resident can help get a project done. Staff might ask, “I need help creating something with this PVC pipe. Can you help me?”
“The intention is not to simply complete tasks,” Lavoie said. “We want to talk about what that person built or experienced in the past, engage them in reminiscing, and as we’re doing it, we can also talk about what we’re doing and what the person wants to do or create. It’s total engagement with the person.”
Lavoie said those who wish to take part in the activities will find them soothing and also feel a sense of purpose. “It’s a way to make people here feel happy, to feel a sense of self-worth and accomplishment,” she said. “The activities give them a sense that they are playing a civic role.”
Resources available will also include memory boxes, which will hold items related to a particular theme—such as the holidays, the beach, gardening, or sewing. “The materials will be available for reminiscing and discussion,” Lavoie said, noting, again, that while the materials can be used in crafting, the purpose of the items in the room—jars of beads, buttons, and similar supplies—will instead be the launching pad for discussion. “We might ask, ‘Can you help me sort these beads by color?”
One of three Positive Approach to Care (PAC) trainers in Western Mass, Lavoie has been sharing her knowledge of dementia care with staff members, and has trained employees in techniques for better approaching difficult personalities and situations.
Every Glenmeadow employee—from caregivers to dining servers to maintenance staff—receives mandatory dementia training upon hiring, plus ongoing training opportunities, specific to their functional role.
Lavoie said the concept for Fraser’s came out of her trainings. She said Fraser’s has been a quiet room for many years but was underutilized because the décor was not conducive to relaxation, and the space didn’t hold the kinds of enticing activities and resources it will hold now.
Now, Fraser’s is inviting. The walls are light tan and sage. Upholstered chairs are arranged around a circular table and adjacent to two small, rectangular work tables, which are also portable. The space holds plants, a fish tank, ambient lighting, music, and aromatherapy.
The sons who made the donation to Glenmeadow did so after their mother took part in the Buddies program at the nonprofit; Lavoie said they felt grateful because the experience of being paired with a volunteer was beneficial.
The Buddies program serves people living with dementia who feel isolated. Volunteers are trained and matched with a resident; the pairs then take part in activities together—attending a program or having breakfast in Longmeadow. Now, buddies may also choose to work together in Fraser’s.
To learn how to become a buddy, contact Lavoie at LLavoie@glenmeadow.org.
Glenmeadow is a nonprofit life plan community—formerly known as a retirement community—and it has a mission to serve seniors in the Greater Springfield region, whether they live on the Longmeadow campus or in their own homes.
Established in 1884, Glenmeadow is an accredited life plan community; it provides independent and assisted living at its campus at 24 Tabor Crossing in Longmeadow and expanded Glenmeadow at Home services throughout greater Springfield.
To learn more about Glenmeadow and its history and offerings, visit www.glenmeadow.org.
In the 1800s, elderly individuals without family or means were sent to live at what was called “the poor farm.” In 1884, a group of civic leaders raised funds among themselves and other area families and purchased a house on Main Street in Springfield’s south end, establishing The Springfield Home for Aged Women. Quickly outgrowing that house, land was purchased on the corner of Chestnut and Carew streets, where a new home was constructed and opened in 1900. In 1960, the name was changed to Chestnut Knoll, and, in 1992, it began to admit men.
In 1993, the organization purchased a 23-acre parcel in Longmeadow to build a new community that would provide both independent living and assisted living in one building with various common areas. This was a new concept known as a continuing care retirement community. Existing residents from the old Chestnut Knoll property were moved to the new campus in 1997. Shortly after the move, the board voted to change its legal name to Glenmeadow to coincide with the name being used by the developer of the property.
Continuing care retirement communities are now referred to as life plan communities, responding to the needs of the aging population with new opportunities for care, plus creative, educational and personal exploration. Glenmeadow offerings, which include everything from senior living options and handyman services to personal care and travel programs, are provided at its Longmeadow campus and across the region through Glenmeadow at Home. Glenmeadow strives to fulfill its mission of nurturing the whole person in mind, body, and spirit.