Staff Spotlight: Bringing Innovation to California Memory Care

Ashley Hill makes the rounds to spend quality care time with California dementia care residents

For Memory Care Specialist Ashley Hill, a typical day at work doesn’t really exist.

Hill, who has worked at Elder Care Alliance for more than four years as both a memory care and resident care director, spends each week shuttling among Elder Care Alliance’s four California memory care communities in Camarillo, San Francisco, San Rafael and Oakland, meeting with directors, walking the floor and getting to know residents and their family members.

This year, Hill was also selected to attend regular seminars and training sessions in several U.S. cities. The events, which offer the chance to exchange advice on best practices with other senior care providers, are part of a fellowship offered by LeadingAge, an association of aging services organizations.

Between these events and visiting communities, most of Hill’s workweek is spent on the road. “I love that no two days are the same,” she says. “But more importantly, I really like seeing our staff build relationships with the residents we serve. Seeing smiles on the residents’ faces, I can go home at night and know we made a difference in some way.”

Bringing Out the Best in California Memory Care

Hill’s memory care position, a new role at Elder Care Alliance, includes helping to plan educational workshops for staff and executing programs to provide the best possible resident experience.

For example, Hill and other staff members work with families to create memory boxes for residents with dementia. The boxes, which are filled with items that reflect residents’ interests and memories, function as a calming aid. They’re designed to help with sundowning, when people with dementia experience increased restlessness and confusion in the afternoon or evening.

“If a resident really enjoys baking, and loves oatmeal raisin cookies, we might include the recipe, pictures of loved ones eating the cookies and a book on cookies so the resident has something to hold to gain a positive emotion during that time,” Hill says.

Hill’s resident care responsibilities can also involve helping family members adjust to their loved one’s new environment.

“My role is to support the memory care directors, and also offer residents’ relatives information and support,” Hill says. “A lot of times, when families come through our doors, it’s about educating them on what they can expect—what a meaningful visit can look like.”

Easing the Transition to Memory Care

The transition starts before a resident walks through the doors.

Because the staff has found move-in day can be stressful for memory care residents, they’ve worked to streamline the series of events. Elder Care Alliance’s sales and marketing team compiles all administrative paperwork, which Hill then double-checks to confirm everything is in order.

Staff members assemble everything necessary to provide the appropriate level of care, based on the resident’s initial assessment; and directors try to determine what programs are occurring around the scheduled move-in day to immediately let new residents know what events they might like to attend.

“It involves me working with our team and the families ahead of time so all the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s are crossed to ensure they have a safe move in, a great meal and get engaged in the program,” Hill says. “Families can feel like they made a great decision—and residents can feel like they’re part of a new family.”

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