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Canmore’s Origin strives to make facility a ‘home’

Origin Active Lifestyle Communities has created what’s called the MorningStar care wing dedicated to ensuring those dealing with cognitive impairments are comfortable, secure and engaged, and recently, they’ve expanded

CANMORE – A Canmore care facility is doing its best to make its residents feel at home.

Origin Active Lifestyle Communities has created what’s called the MorningStar care wing dedicated to ensuring those dealing with cognitive impairments are comfortable, secure and engaged, and recently, they’ve expanded.

“We call it MorningStar House, which is our memory care unit,” said Zoe Robinson, the life enrichment educator at Origin.

“It is a 15-room specialized memory care wing. All of our staff are specially trained to create an environment that is really conducive but also engaging for residents who are struggling with different cognitive impairment and we also offer more specialized 24 hour nursing care.”

According to Alzheimer Society of Canada, the number of Canadians who are getting diagnosed with dementia is rising, yet the level of care those affected receive may not be catching up. Robinson said she recognizes this and that’s what makes MorningStar House so unique.

“I love that it’s a smaller scale so the staff to resident ratio is a lot lower, which means they get more person-centered care. It’s really unique in that our staff are specially educated in dementia and other cognitive impairment diseases, so they know different approaches, they have different skill sets dealing with residents that are struggling, and creating an environment where they strive, so we’re really focused on keeping as much independence as possible for our residents,” said Robinson.

The unit itself is meant to mimic a person’s home and when you walk into the wing, it very much feels like one. There’s art on the walls, bookshelves, comfortable couches and tasteful furniture. There’s even a fish tank in the dining area. The rooms themselves are left for the individual to fill with their own items.

“We help their families to set up their rooms to mirror as closely as they can the home they came from, so whether that’s living independently, or in another assisted living, we try to have their room set up to be as close as possible, so that they can still function independently but still feel at home,” said Robinson.

“We want them to feel like this is their space so it’s not clinical, you’ll walk down there and it doesn’t feel clinical though there is that clinical care piece.”

In a press release, Origin said it has dedicated years to learning as much as possible about how to care for those with memory loss.

“Burgeoning demand is only one side of the equation. The other component is understanding the evolution of caregiving for the growing customer base,” the release said.

“Origin has invested years into learning about the impact of serving residents with memory care challenges and it is the innovation in service delivery that characterizes the resident engagement experience in Origin at Spring Creek’s MorningStar memory care wing.”

A huge part of the specialized care is focused on caregivers – a family member, such as a spouse or a son or daughter, who ends up becoming the sole care provider for an individual struggling with a memory loss disease. Robinson said the facility is eager to allow family members to go back to being a family member.

“We want you to go back to just being their spouse, or their family member, or their son or their daughter,” she said.

“We want you to get to be that role again and we want to take off any kind of burden that you were feeling regarding care and safety and just the general hands-on of caregiving. We want to give back to you, your role as a family member. That way they can come and enjoy their family member and not feel the weight of being a caregiver.”

The facility boasts of 42,000 square feet with a fitness centre, spa, woodworking shop, entertainment and dining. It’s one of the first facilities to encourage its residences to continue embracing an active lifestyle, according to the press release.

“It is one of the first local senior residences to fully embrace intergenerational active living by offering the geographic location, nurturing environment and engaging programming to keep residents healthy and happy as they transition from independence to assisted living to complex care through their later years,” it said.

For Robinson, the innovative and creative ways to find what’s best in terms of care for aging adults is a no brainer.

“I think they deserve the highest level of dignity and they deserve to live a full life in whatever way that looks for them and so I think creating an environment like that, where they still get to feel joy and purpose,” she said.

“I also think its super important because they’ve given so much to our society, they deserve to have our generation now give back to them.”