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Meet Some of our Metta Memory Team

At Metta Lifestyles we are very proud of our Memory Care program. Metta Memory will be launching at our Ottawa residence, Governors Walk in Spring 2021.

We recently interviewed our Metta Memory team members Amy Ensing who is the Memory Care Manager at Queens Estate and Chef Peter Lee who is the Regional Food Services Manager and oversees the dining program for Metta Memory. Here is look at our conversation:

Amy Ensing – Memory Care Manager at Queens Estate

What is your role in Metta Memory?

My position is Memory Care Manager at Queens Estate. My role entails working with the Health and Wellness Manager and Lifestyles Manager to customize care for the individual as they navigate through their dementia journey.

What would you consider the major benefits to memory care?

Memory care allows the individual to thrive and find meaningful pursuits in a supportive environment. Memory care addresses a lot of needs that other traditional care models cannot. Memory Care is adaptive; dementia is a progressive illness, and the care requirements can change. Not just physically but also emotional needs change as well. Progression can vary in speed and flow. Metta Memory allows the resident to guide their journey with our team providing support, comfort and safety along the way.

What makes Metta Memory so unique from other memory care programs?

Metta Memory is different because we incorporate both the resident and their family into our Metta Family. For the resident, their abilities are changing. Being able to care for themselves in the same way has changed. We understand the challenges that can bring, and we provide an environment where personhood is respected. For the family, being a caregiver is a demanding role both physically and emotionally. It is important to us and our program to be able to support them through the tough moments and to celebrate the joy and fun moments.

COVID-19 has had many impacts on the daily activities and lives of retirement residents everywhere; how has Metta Memory been adapting?

What would a typical day look like for a resident in the program?

There is nothing typical about it! That is what I love about Memory Care - that no two days are the same. Our amazing Lifestyles Manager, Sarah goes floor to floor, room to room with the activities of the day. These include contests, national food days, exercise, and art. We have our Care Companions set up music, sing-alongs or virtual concerts or individual programs for the residents who like to stay in the lounge. Some of these programs can include therapeutic colouring, jewelry making, playing cards. Spontaneous dancing is not uncommon! I come in and work with residents who have projects or prefer a longer one on one experience. For example, I am working with a resident on creating a book so that they can independently use their DVD player. Another resident is a professional piano player, so we spend our time rehearsing our way through their songbook. Some just want a friendly face and an open ear to chat with and it allows for more of an organic relationship. Our culinary team provides delicious meals and residents really enjoy going to the dining room and getting to chat with more people, we have a friendly group here. This is typical for COVID, once we can have groups again, we can do even more!

How do you design the programming for Metta Memory?

A lot of the programming comes from getting to know the residents. Before they even step into the building, I work with the families to collect personal history, past interests, hobbies and experiences. We learn as much as we can about the resident and incorporate it into all departments. Offering opportunities and allowing them choice is important to maintain their autonomy. For care, we do receive information from families and outside healthcare sources that provide us with a health history and summary of the kind of care and support the resident requires. Collaboratively, with the resident, family and caregiver a thorough, individualized care plan is created. The Metta Memory program is designed to empower the resident and present opportunities for choice in such things like picking out clothes, whether they prefer a shower in the day or evening and when to wake up. Metta Memory is designed to allow for as much freedom and flexibility as is safe to provide a routine that is comfortable for the individual.

Sensory Murals are a huge part of the Metta Memory experience, how do you find the residents interact with them?

We receive a lot of positive feedback from residents, it is interesting because it often becomes a conversation piece. Some of the murals will spark memories for residents and then we will have great conversations about their past experiences. It allows me to spark questions and it leads to some engaging conversations. With each of the murals we have activities that follow the mural so with the nursery we have doll therapy. The residents enjoy the baby dolls and frequently engage with them, they also really like the baby book we have and will often flip through expressing joy and happiness when looking at the photos.

What are some new methods of care and support that Metta Memory incorporates?

We are excited for the day that we can have more people in our residence! We will be incorporating intergenerational programming with community groups of all ages. More baking and cooking programs on the floor. Once we can safely get together, we will be introducing a bell choir to our Metta Memory Program which will have residents working together to make music.

Chef Peter Lee - Regional Food Services Manager

What is your role with Metta Memory?

In conjunction with Health & Wellness, Culinary and Memory Care Managers, my role is to provide an enjoyable dining experience for the residents. That includes an individualized approach that each resident can eat and enjoy based on their current abilities and preferences. I support the various Metta Memory neighbourhoods with nutrition education and server training, for example. I play the role of sourcing and delivery of appropriate equipment and dinnerware that each residence requires. I am constantly researching new and innovative ways to incorporate a great dining experience into our homes.

How does dining and food play a role in the Metta Memory? Food is an integral part of our Metta Memory program. We use the dining time as a chance for residents to stimulate multiple senses: touch, sound, smell and taste. It also allows residents to engage with other residents and staff over a meal. We have designated dining for residents in Metta Memory and create an environment for them to eat at their own pace and not be rushed. We use specialized coloured dinnerware that allows for better visual contrast between the food and the plates. We also have customized cutlery and ergonomic drinkware that allows residence the independence of eat by themselves if they would like to. We also dim the lighting and play music to create an enjoyable ambiance while they enjoy their meal.

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