Kendal at Longwood was seeking to redesign its health center and create an area focused on memory care. Over the years, Sarah Matas, Health Services Administrator, had attended several conferences about the Montessori philosophy and introduced it to the team. This philosophy was first developed as a method for teaching children but the concepts and principles can be applied across all ages.
Over the past two years, Kendal at Longwood has adopted Montessori as their philosophy of care. Staff in all disciplines are trained for a systematic approach of care. In addition, approximately 20 independent living residents have been trained to help with implementing the Montessori philosophy. The team works with a consultant and continues with regular training.
Encouraging independence and providing meaningful work are hallmarks of the Montessori philosophy. The redesign of the health center now includes several themed nooks, which has been established based on residents' interests. Each nook has supporting materials for engaged interaction, such as Audubon plush birds that make noises, binoculars to watch birds, books to read, and wall maps to mark your travels. As residents travel the halls and stop at a nook, they can engage in the activities and have conversations with staff and family members.
Many residents are engaged in different roles and activities that reinforce their independence from dressing themselves, making their own beds, and folding their own laundry to delivering newspapers, gardening, helping wheel residents to and from activities, and decorating seasonal bulletin boards. These activities encourage autonomy and allow residents to live their lives to the fullest extent possible, and to focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t.
There are a range of activities offered that meet different cognitive levels. Residents can spend time grooming a plush cat, sorting coins and silverware, matching cards, or arranging flowers. They have held a workshop to create memory books. This has allowed family members to participate with their memory-impaired loved ones.
According to Jan Seiler, Life Enrichment Director, “The Montessori approach to care has allowed us to observe and learn about the residents, facilitate great conversations, and perpetuate meaningful engagement, all of which had been our initial objectives.”