New Kennewick memory care home to open this spring

Kennewick’s newest residential memory care facility had plans to open this month but the state agency in charge of licensing assisting living facilities likely won’t issue one until March.

It typically takes the state Department of Social and Health Services four to six months to process assisted living facility license applications, according to state officials. Windsong at Southridge filed its application Nov. 6.

Once open, the facility will be able to accommodate 56 residents.

The $6.1 million facility is visible from Highway 395, across from Home Depot, at 4000 24th Ave.

Windsong planned to begin the process of hiring staff the second week of January. It’ll employ an eight-member management team, which includes an executive chef, maintenance director, business office manager, health services director who is a registered nurse, resident care coordinator and a life enrichment coordinator.

In addition, caregivers, medication assistants and a housekeeper will be brought on for the 24-hour operation.

The facility’s staff-to-resident ratio for daytime hours is 1-to-6.

As Windsong prepares to open, its executive director and community relations manager have been meeting with community groups around the Tri-Cities to establish partnerships.

They say their goal is not to isolate residents, but to bring the community to them and them to the community in “purposeful ways,” said Drew Percival, executive director.

“We’ve been developing community partnerships so residents are a part of their community and they’re not locked away,” she said.

Windsong’s 13-passenger bus will accommodate regular outings for residents.

“In good supportive memory care that’s designed for them, they come and they thrive,” Percival said.

Windsong at Southridge’s unique approach to dementia care involves a Montessori-inspired approach.

The Montessori method typically is used with children. The approach values the development of the whole person — physical, social, emotional and cognitive. Montessori classrooms often include multi-age groupings to foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time and guided choice of work activity.

Montessori-based dementia care focuses on muscle memory, the five senses and building on existing skills, interests and abilities. Windsong’s approach allows seniors to tap into their history, experiences and senses by offering hands-on learning opportunities.

Engagement stations – some featuring dresses, hats and jewelry to try on, or crafts to do – will be set up throughout the building to provide this purpose to residents. There also will be a nursery with dolls, cribs and rocking chairs.

“As our residents walk around, there will be things set up in the environment for them to engage with…it’ll be something on the wall to engage with, to read, to touch,” said Becky Lepinski, community relations manager.

A cleaning station outside the neighborhood kitchen will be stocked with mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies under a sign that reads, “Help us keep our home clean.” 

“They’ll take the broom and instead of wandering down halls, they’ll sweep floors. With Montessori, there’s no right or wrong, it’s all about engagement,” Percival said.

Assisted living residents, especially those with dementia, frequently are described as not being able to walk, read or use the restroom independently and that’s not the approach Windsong likes to take, Percival said.

“We always want to focus on our residents’ remaining strengths,” she said.

Even the language to describe the facility is unique. Windsong doesn’t refer to the two identical sides of its building as “wings,” but as “neighborhoods.” Residents, who meet monthly at resident council meetings, even provide names for them. The meetings also determine activities that are going to happen in the next month and next quarter “because there’s no reason in planning an activity that they’re not interested in or don’t see purpose in,” Percival said.

The 36,200-square-foot facility will offer private rooms, a full commercial kitchen, interior and exterior courtyards with wheelchair-accessible garden beds, television areas, two homestyle kitchens, a salon and two Montessori-style rooms for activities.

“Our neighborhoods are circular and all roads lead to home in the kitchen. That’s designed specifically for memory care since we know folks tend to wander,” Percival said.

Residents and their families are encouraged to decorate their loved ones’ doors with photos of from when they were younger to serve as a visual cue to let them know they’re home.

“We want, as people are walking around, for there not to be empty walls, empty space, what do I do? We want purposeful areas and then it’s easy for the staff and the families to engage,” Lepinski said.

Windsong fees range from $5,800 a month to $7,000 a month, based on the level of care needed. The facility also charges a one-time $1,500 fee, and accepts private payments only, no Medicaid.

Windsong at Southridge: 4000 24th Ave., Kennewick; 509-202-4327; windsongmemorycare.com; Facebook and Instagram.

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