You may have read about the recent groundbreaking of the new S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village, a innovative Memory Care Facility on the campus of Miami Jewish Health. After attending a preview there last week, I hesitate to use the word facility because it will be a real home to 99 dementia patients and a community for them and their family members. It’s a very exciting concept that I hope will serve as a model for other areas that are seeking ways to offer high-touch, thoughtful care for dementia patients.
Residents will live in one of nine “households,” each one complete with private rooms, a central living area, kitchen and dining room. Like any village, there will also be a large courtyard with greenery, walkways and fountains, indoor and outdoor cafes, a wellness center, stores, and quiet places where residents can socialize, and families can gather.
If you’re thinking that it sounds like a nice place to live, that’s exactly what its founder, Dr. Marc Agronin, envisioned. Dr. Agronin is a Geriatric Psychiatrist and Senior VIce President for Behavioral Health and Chief of Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health and author of several books on aging, caregiving and dementia. He says the goal of EmpathiCare Village is to create a real community complete with daily routines and interactions - the same as anyone who has shopping to do or coffee dates with friends. The care model, based on empathy, will be delivered by trained caregivers who are knowledgeable about the needs and strengths of each resident.
Doesn’t this sound like an environment that you would want for a loved one or yourself? I think it’s very exciting, and a relief to see something so promising being developed. It’s what we desperately need and it’s a wonderful option for dementia patients and their caregivers to consider.
Anyone who has had experience with a loved one with dementia knows that there are no easy solutions when it comes to creating a long-term sustainable care plan. If you have a family member with dementia, even if it's at an early stage, I encourage you to learn more about Empathicare Village as you plan ahead and consider all options.
Here are a few links to learn more about EmpathiCare Village and the vision behind it.
The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Dementia or other NeuroCognitive Disorders
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