As Bonnie Lepore began to slowly forget the world around her, her husband made the difficult decision to move her into a nursing facility.
Unfortunately, the environment she moved into several years ago did nothing to help. It was loud and caused her to react badly, lashing out at those around her. So Dan Lapore began looking for a new place.
He found WindsorMeade Williamsburg — a continuing care retirement community that offers assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services on its sprawling property off Monticello Road. For Bonnie, the right fit came at Manchester House, the newest addition at WindsorMeade designed for those dealing with the challenges brought on by Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.
“When I came here, it just struck me,” says Dan, a retired Navy man who moved to Williamsburg 14 years ago after honeymooning here 50 years ago.
“The management, the staff, the care, the environment — it was the right place. When I leave, I have peace of mind.”
Manchester House, which opened in January, follows a person-centered approach that shapes the household model, which is designed to promote comfort and relaxation by making residents feel like they’re truly in a home. The entire place is centered around a large kitchen and dining area, with two wings each comprised of nine private rooms. The “household” is filled with amenities such as a piano, a fireplace and a landscaped courtyard where residents can garden, walk or just sit and relax.
Just walking in the front door is meant to be reminiscent of a house — with a large door adorned with a wreath and a doorbell to ring.
“When you walk in, it’s like you’re in a regular kitchen,” says Debbie Maddocks, a retirement counselor at WindsorMeade. “It’s called a household because we want people to be comfortable in their home.”
There are no typical medicinal smells inside Manchester House, like those often associated with many other care facilities. Instead, the smell that greets visitors is of whatever the chef is cooking that day.
Since Bonnie Lepore moved in three months ago, she’s gained 8 pounds, which she needed on her slight frame, her husband said. One of her favorite things to do is eat, he jokes.
What makes Manchester House different, says Maddocks, is its commitment to being a resident-centered program. Highly trained team members pitch in when necessary, to make sure residents get what they need. If someone wakes up in the middle of the night and wants a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, there’s someone around to get one.
“This environment is so calm and loving, and she responds to it,” Dan says of his wife’s reaction to living at Manchester House, where her room is decorated according to her likes, including a double bed, a window seat and plenty of family photographs. “She wakes up smiling.”
Manchester House’s goal is to engage residents and enhance their daily lives. A certified recreation therapist plans activities that keep residents engaged, with everything from painting and playing cards to throwing a beach ball that encourages conversation around the living room area. There is a television room, but it’s rarely used because residents are busy doing other activities. Residents have access to two beauty salons, an indoor saltwater pool and various dining options to visit with loved ones.
The WindsorMeade staff — here, they are all called team members — include chefs, a dietician, a doctor, a psychiatrist, nurses, physical therapists and housekeepers, all of whom are trained to care for memory impaired patients. Even medication distribution is handled differently than at other facilities — rather than have nurses roll around a cart several times a day, medications are locked inside cabinets in residents’ rooms. That means less chance of a mix-up.
Bonnie, who is 71, was diagnosed with dementia — likely Alzheimer’s disease — three years ago. At first, Dan tried to take care of her himself, but as the disease progressed, Bonnie became fearful, distrustful and combative. Dan realized he could no longer care for her in their home.
“It’s a horrible disease,” Dan says. “This is the worse disease I could imagine. It’s even tougher on the caregiver.”
At the first facility Bonnie was in, she did okay at first but it didn’t last, Dan says. She began losing weight because she wouldn’t eat — the staff didn’t seem to pay attention to the fact that she’s lactose-intolerant. All of that has changed at Manchester House, where team members cater to each resident and know how to work with those who have dementia, Dan says.
“I can see it in her face,” says Dan, who visits his wife usually twice a day and walks hand-in-hand with her throughout the household. “She’s comfortable. She’s relaxed. She’s happy.”
And she’s welcoming. On a recent morning, Bonnie met a woman moving in. As the new resident’s daughter sat nearby at a picnic table in the courtyard and wiped away tears, Bonnie smiled and shook the new resident’s hand warmly and told her they could be friends.
Manchester House is currently accepting applications. Call (866) 403-5503 or visit www.windsormeade.org for more information. “Tour the facility,” advises Dan Lepore. “There’s a different way to manage this disease.”