Assisted living center embraces "neighborhoods"

Culture change to a person-centered care model is the hottest concept in long-term care and senior living. A new assisted-living facility at St. Andrews North, a continuing care retirement community, in Boca Raton, Fla., is the epitome of the concept.

Oak Bridge Terrace, a 72-resident building on the St. Andrews campus that opened last October, features three “neighborhoods” that include a dining area complete with an expanded menu, kitchens that mimic a home environment and many foods being cooked to order.

“What we wanted to do was to give residents the same style of service and living that we have in our independent living communities,” explains Virginia Ohanian, director of culinary and nutrition services. Oak Bridge Terrace has three floors, each of which is referred to as a neighborhood. As many as 24 residents live in each neighborhood, and they dine in a cozy area that features a countertop dining space that faces a small kitchen where “homemakers” prepare meals to order.

“We don’t call them foodservice workers,” Ohanian says. “They have a variety of duties. Part of culture change means having more universal workers; they do cleaning of the dining area after meals, they assist residents when they need help, they even pass medications. They are very knowledgeable. The idea is that residents get to know the caregivers in their neighborhoods so that a level of trust is built up and caregivers can anticipate residents’ needs.”

Personal assistants for living help the homemakers by taking residents’ orders and bringing them their meals in courses.

The menu has been expanded to give residents more variety. The always available lunch and dinner menu operates on a four-week cycle, divided into two seasons—spring-summer and fall-winter. Each day features an appetizer special, two entrée specials and two vegetable/side specials. In addition, the menu offers a variety of sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, a fish of the day, a pasta of the day, a grilled chicken breast, and a variety of side dishes and desserts. 

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