People wandered throughout Fieldstone Memory Care in Kennewick during its grand opening Tuesday, strolling the wide halls and the town center with its high ceilings, movie theater and café.
They peeked into apartments, some with “I am rented” signs hanging outside their doors.
Most aren’t planning to live here themselves. Rather, they’re thinking about moving a family member suffering from dementia into Fieldstone, which plans to welcome its first residents around Aug. 1.
The assisted living center at 575 N. Young St. was custom-built to cater to the needs of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that compromise their memory and independence.
“We built this building because we want to solve problems,” said Wayne Purdom, president of Cascadia Senior Living.
There also was a desire to get away from how such care was provided in the past. Gone are the clinical settings with multiple people housed in a room and kept largely isolated, officials said. Instead, Fieldstone provides a bright and expansive space that encourages social activity and has the staff to keep residents and their families at ease.
“Who wouldn’t want to live here?” asked executive director Kathy Patton. “It’s beautiful. It’s interactive.”
There are more than a dozen licensed facilities with nearly 1,000 beds total offering enhanced adult residential care, assisted living or dementia care in Benton and Franklin counties, according to the state Department of Social and Health Services.
Fieldstone Memory Care, which will hold up to 60 residents in 48 apartments, is seeking an assisted living license from the state, Purdom said. That means the center can’t provide extensive medical care to residents, but some services, such as medication management and small wound care, will be available. Cascadia Senior Living operates a similar but slightly smaller facility in Yakima.
The biggest part of the center’s mission, though, is dementia care. One in 10 senior citizens in the state is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a chronic neurodegenerative disease. Parkinson’s and other forms of dementia affect even more, and many don’t realize they are afflicted.
Purdom said Fieldstone has two primary features that allow it to keep residents safe and comfortable. A wireless monitoring system called QuietCare tracks a resident’s movements within their apartment. If there’s a sudden disruption to their pattern, such as an unusually long bathroom visit, a nurse is alerted and pays a visit.
How the center’s staff will work with residents is also different. In the past, when dementia patients became worked up over something they thought they needed to do, such as go to the store, or something from the past, caretakers would try and bring them back to reality. Fieldstone staff will instead use validation therapy, which means staff will ask the resident questions about what they need and seek to redirect their attention.
About a third of the center’s apartments, which include one-bedroom and studio layouts, have been leased, officials said. Prices start at $5,050 per month. While only private payment will be accepted at first, Purdom said he is pursuing Medicaid certification for about 10 percent of the center’s rooms to allow residents who begin to run short to stay on.