Excerpted from an interview with Robert Walker, communications director of One Kenton, a B’nai Brith residence in North York for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
Robert Walker on what makes One Kenton unique.
“We are a building exclusively for individuals with a form of dementia called Alzheimer’s. There are other kinds of dementias as well. But we are the newest residence in years in Canada exclusively for people with different kinds of dementia and candidate impairment. So every square inch of the building, from the lights to the mirrors to the technology, the robots, the walls, the programs, the therapies, everything is specifically catered to individuals with dementia and doing two things. One is improving their happiness, even if they don’t remember what happened ten minutes ago, are they happy? Are they enjoying themselves? And the second is trying to improve their functions whenever possible, try to get their physical abilities improved, trying to get their cognitive abilities improved.
“It’s a personal care plan, beyond all of that. For example we had one resident here who was a big golfer his whole life. so we can take him outside and we have his golf clubs and we swing the golf clubs with him, big plastic ball, so it’s not a safety issue. We have someone here who use to be a tailor her whole life, so we have a sewing machine in her room. Obviously we took out all the dangerous components that can cause injury to herself, but she has that in her room, it’s a whole way of thinking we call validation therapy. Nobody wants to live in a home,hey want to live at home, here, it’s not a one-size fits all, people need an individual touch, an individual approach, every moment from their meals to their medication to how often they bathe, everything is based on what they need.
“We are a home exclusively for people who have dementia. It’s a locked building, as you saw when you came in. Our residents, God forbid walk out on Bathurst Street. We have had residents here, when they were living in other homes, have walked many many kilometres, and I talked to one family and her loved one walked 9 kilometres, that’s probably where we are, at Finch up until Highway 7 before the police got them. Here, it’s a locked residence so people can’t walk out without a pass. We have, obviously security camera, we have sensors, we have the locked doors, also of course have the high-level of staff, we have 1 to 3 which is the highest in the city, I don’t know if any place is better then that. So that means for every staff member there are only 3 residents, as opposed to 10 or 15, a smaller class-size if you will. But we have everything from sensors which the residents all wear, that tracks where they are 24 hours a day.
“There are really two people in the story here, not just the person who has dementia. It’s their loved ones. Studies show that a majority of unpaid caregivers will develop psychological illness. That means, the next 10 people who come in whose loved ones are living at home, on average at least five will develop something like clinical depression, so it’s extremely hard, for not just the individual suffering with dementia, the loved ones, too. So we aim to provide not just the best care for the resident but for the whole family as well.”
We don’t accept the status quo here, we actually try to improve the quality of life of our residents. Robert Walker, Communications Director
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