CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, in partnership with the Hearthstone Institute, has successfully implemented the “I’m Still Here®” (ISH) approach in its Vista Memory Care program.
A pioneering engagement-focused memory-care approach, ISH helps people living with dementia achieve wellbeing and quality of life.
More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. The “I’m Still Here®” approach ensures that every person living with this disability has an opportunity to learn and have meaningful, purposeful experiences regardless of the severity of his or her memory loss. By focusing on strengths that remain, instead of dwelling on changes caused by dementia, ISH creates opportunities for connection and empowerment.
“One of the most significant challenges for persons living with cognitive impairment is the stigma,” said John Zeisel, Hearthstone’s Founder. “The ‘I’m Still Here®’ approach provides us with a powerful tool for overcoming this stigma because it generates the knowledge that every person has an innate capability to learn, succeed, and remain engaged.”
Founded in 1992 to provide innovative, non-pharmacologic treatment programs for people living with dementia, Hearthstone has become a world leader in the field.
ISH represents a radical paradigm shift in dementia care by eliciting an unprecedented level of true engagement from participants. Through environmental adaptation, specialized communication techniques, staff training, and life-enrichment programs, the approach enables people living with dementia to remain creative and actively engaged throughout their lives.
The program has been shown to successfully reduce common symptoms associated with dementia such as anxiety, agitation, aggression, and apathy. The skills-based approach tailors activities to each individual’s cognitive abilities and strengths, increasing self-esteem and independence. By offering choices throughout the day and encouraging independence, residents continue to learn, connect, and contribute to the world around them.
“In striving for excellence in our memory care services, we sought to create an environment that fosters independence, to allow people to flourish despite the severity of memory loss,” said Gary Selmeczi, President and CEO of WCBR. “By implementing this philosophy in our community, our residents have increased opportunities for engagement, connection, and purpose, resulting in improved function and a higher quality of life.”
On Aug. 25, WCBR’s Vista Memory Care community attained certification as an “I’m Still Here®” Center of Excellence. To achieve that distinction, staff participated in intensive on-site training programs, which included training in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, communication techniques, and life enrichment.
Staff learned how to forge new and deeper relationships with residents, enhancing positive role associations between the two. All staff recognize that engaging residents in meaningful, life-enriching experiences throughout the day results in a thriving community where residents can live to their fullest potential.
Hearthstone will conduct regular site assessments to ensure that the practices and principles imparted in the “I’m Still Here®” program are maintained at their highest levels.
About Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge
Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, located in Charlottesville, Va., is the only not-for-profit Lifecare, accredited, continuing care retirement community in the region. The campus features several levels of care, including independent living apartments and cottages, assisted living, memory care, long-term nursing care and short-term skilled nursing. For more information, visit https://westminstercanterbury.org.