The Moorings Memory Support Staff Makes Life an Adventure

With cutting-edge technology, warm and loving staff members and an innovative slate of activities, the Health Care Center at The Moorings of Arlington Heights provides exceptional care for residents with cognition issues.

"Staff members establish relationships with the residents and make them feel comfortable in their home -- because this is their home," said Maria Trejo, activities specialist at The Moorings. "We engage residents every day, and every day is a new adventure."

A recent adventure was a "trip" to Poland as part of the Traveling Around the World program where residents experience a different country each month. "We have a nurse and two CNAs from Poland, and they loved being involved in the event. As part of the presentation, one brought items from her country -- the flag, and money," Trejo said.

Of course no celebration is complete without food. The group feasted on pierogi, sausage from Poland and kolaczki (jelly-filled cookies). The activities room smelled wonderful, and the residents were so excited, Trejo said. "We set up a themed table which included the flag of Poland and shared what each color on the flag represented with residents. An employee from the Arlington Heights Library brought books and CDs with music and travel activities, and we learned all about the Polish culture. It was nice to see the residents having so much fun with the staff."

The staff really pay attention to see the types of things that residents responds to. This allows them to customize a care plan for each person including activities that engage them and allow them to thrive.

The community recently welcomed a new form of technology called Never Too Late, a new and up-and-coming computer system that focuses on dementia activities, said Nicole Chalira, memory care manager. "It's a 70-inch touch screen, and we're having a lot of fun with it."

The system offers video games, trivia, sing-alongs, music, art classes, exercise programs and sensory videos that provide stimulation for lower-functioning residents. The staff incorporates these activities into residents' everyday schedules.

Daily activities focus on mind, body and spirit. For example, a baking experience allows residents to beat the eggs or scoop cookie dough onto a tray. Physical activities get residents moving and include different forms of dancing. Socials in the afternoon are important as well as special events with professional entertainment. A focus on the spiritual aspect of life includes singing hymns, reflections and prayers along with chaplain's corner worship service every Wednesday, Catholic Mass on Sunday and visits from a Lutheran minister.

"I like to make life special for the residents and I want them to experience happiness every day," Trejo said. "I tell them how nice it is outside. If it's a cloudy day, I sing 'You Are My Sunshine.'"

Trejo and Chalira say good teamwork and excellent caregiving help residents easily adapt to their environment and gives each person an enriched quality of life. With the managers, nurses and CNAs on the same page, it makes it feel like a true community.

The Memory Care Center is part of the continuum of care at The Moorings of Arlington Heights, a Presbyterian Homes independent living community in the heart of Chicago's Northwest suburbs. Founded in 1904, Presbyterian Homes is a not-for-profit organization with a national reputation for creating extraordinary retirement communities.