Mountainside Senior Living Dementia Unit Set to Open

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From left: Pat Hall, MSL; MSL administrator Sharon Britt; Leslie Reed of Twice As Nice thrift store; Fluvanna County supervisor Mozell Booker; Albemarle Supervisors chair Ann Mallek; Andrew Dracopoli of the Genans Foundation; Heather Hill, Charlottesville Vice Mayor (concealing Martin Silverman); Philip Sparks of the Perry Foundation; and Regina Kerns of JABA. Photo: Mike Marshall.

More than 30 local officials and others were on hand February 15 for a ribbon-cutting at Mountainside Senior Living that opened the facility’s new secure 20-bed dementia unit with 12 rooms. A renovation of the facility’s third floor converted it from assisted–living rooms and the new layout includes a “snoezelen room,” a room that accommodates two that’s set aside for alternative therapy—meaning not drugs—for patients that become over-stimulated. Plus, there’s a dining area with a long family-style dining table for communal meals and a large community room that looks out through panoramic windows on The Square, where there is usually an entertaining bustle to observe. The renovation also incorporated what were balconies into the reconfigured rooms. All rooms are secured and cameras monitor the halls and common areas.

“I realize how hard everyone has worked,” said Jefferson Area Board for Aging executive director Marta Keene. “I’m amazed at what this has turned out to be. So many of our residents have been moving out because we didn’t have a memory unit, and when we did a market study, we realized there is a bigger need. ”

“It’s a proud moment for the community, said Martin Silverman, the chair of the Jefferson Elder Care board, which oversees MSL on behalf of JABA. “The board had the vision to transform the third floor. We’ll be applying best practices. We’re committed to providing the assistance our residents need.” He thanked donors to the project as well as those who helped the facility replace its elevators.

From left: Regina Kerns of JABA with Mountainside staff members Trina Murphy, Kati Decker, and Sharon Britt in the new Blue Ridge Neighborhood at Mountainside. Photo: Mike Marshall.

The unit has a small kitchen area and two refrigerators, though all meals are brought up from the main kitchen. Each work shift will include a nurse and two aides.

There will be activities suited to the patients. “We’ll use what we call positive approaches rather than medications to control behaviors,” said Sharon Britt, Mountainside’s administrator. “If they like to clean, they can clean. If they like to file things, they can file. We’ll follow their lead.” Patients can also be escorted to the facility’s “back yard” for time outdoors.

The private rooms (three) are $5,500 per month and semi-private rooms go for $4,800. Half the beds are spoken for.

Community dining table at the Mountainside memory-care unit. Photo: Mike Marshall.

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