Winter Growth’s buildings are important therapeutic tools. Each space is designed and decorated with purpose from promoting independence to encouraging reminiscence to providing for safe wandering and walking exercise. Above all, our buildings are warm and inviting, an alternative to the fancy hotel or institutional feel of most service environments for seniors. Our participants and residents are not “guests,” but rather extended family members who help to create the home.
All of our buildings have a high level of natural and full spectrum lighting. This envelope of light assists the visually impaired, and potentially lifts the mood and enhances a sense of calm for some.
Wide hallways accommodate assistive devices and allow plenty of room for participants to move about the building. Handrails throughout and a constant elevation are important deterrents to falls. Large pictures with distinct elements promote pleasant reminiscences and interest and encourage strolling around the building several times a day. We often see flexibility, strength, and endurance improve from increased walking.
Our hallways and some of the bedrooms look out over our enclosed courtyards with outdoor furniture, trees, bird feeders, and gardens. Enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, beautiful flowers, and trees in a protected area is therapeutic for most. Since our courtyards are enclosed, they provide an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy being on the move for most of the day. These individuals are able to wander inside and out often reducing their anxiety and helping them to sleep well at night.
All three of our buildings support concurrent programming. Gathering groups of people with similar interests and abilities is vital to Winter Growth style therapeutic programming. Each building has a great room where all can gather to enjoy outside entertainers, sing-a-longs, parties or fitness groups. There are many smaller rooms in each center where groups of eight to fifteen participants meet with an Activity Leader. Participants play scrabble, discuss current events, read and write poetry, work with clay or other art materials, engage in simple sensory experiences, and enjoy many other activities that are meaningful and therapeutic. The separate rooms create the auditory and visual privacy needed to make groups effective.
Two of our activity rooms in each center are used as “home rooms” as well. Participants start their day with snack or breakfast and conversation with staff and friends in their own homeroom. After moving from room to room to attend activity groups, everyone returns to their home base for lunch. This arrangement helps to create a sense of identity and encourages the establishment of friendships.
For those participants who are distracted or further confused by the activity level of the general day program, the Montgomery and Howard Centers offer a gentler version. It is important for some with more advanced dementia or mental illness to come in contact with fewer people—to have a retreat from forty or more people moving throughout the building (many with help) to attend different groups during the day. To address this need, Winter Growth has designed quiet lounges filled with sensory materials, a TV for music and nature videos, recliners, and a table for simple games or crafts. These extra cozy environment allows for the even higher level of individual attention that is needed by this special group of participants.
All restrooms are equipped with accessible height toilets, grab bars, and stalls with plenty of room for one or more nurse aides to assist as needed. In multi-stall restrooms, privacy curtains are used rather than stall doors with latches that may impede exit for someone with severe arthritis, dementia, or other debilitating disease. Curtains also allow for the expansion of space that may be needed for staff assisting a participant.
Assisted Living Spaces
The Assisted Living areas of the buildings are designed to reflect a home or bed and breakfast. Each bedroom is furnished differently. Residents are invited to bring their own furniture if they wish, or Winter Growth will furnish their room for them. In either case, no two bedrooms look the same. This is important, not only to help orient people to place, but also to support individuality. Unlike the sterile environment created when every bed, dresser, and chair are ordered from the same catalogue, Winter Growth living spaces are created much the same way that people create spaces in their homes. We believe attention to these subtleties is why people so often comment on how homey our buildings are. One congressional aide said during a visit to Ruth Keeton House, “I love that lounge, [Cooper’s Quarters]. It looks like my Dad’s old den. So many Assisted Living facilities look exactly alike. This looks like a real home.”
When you approach our buildings, you will find the natural cedar and brick materials to be welcoming. You will also note that they were designed to complement the neighborhoods in which they are located. Participants enjoy watching the seasons change in the courtyards and on outside areas of our sites.