Three Palms Health Center: state-of-the-art memory care

The new Three Palms Health Center at East Ridge at Cutler Bay senior living community was built on the premise of offering innovation and state-of-the-art care to its residents and memory care patients. To that end, the Palm Lane memory support neighborhood within

Three Palms is embracing a new program under the direction of Charnisa Wright, its memory support manager.

Wright has been specially trained in the ground-breaking Teepa Snow Positive Approach to Care (PAC) philosophy, providing dementia-related awareness, knowledge and skill development in a classroom, community or support group setting.

The Teepa Snow program utilizes a system known as GEMS. The GEMS system describes six stages of dementia and, for each stage, sheds light on what people with dementia are experiencing, and provides appropriate caregiving strategies. This program is based on the Teepa Snow philosophy “to meet people where they are” and the understanding that “the task is not more important than the relationship”.

Under the direction of Wright, the team of caregivers is better able to meet the needs of people in various stages of dementia, and individualize their care.

Three Palms at East Ridge embraced the Teepa Snow philosophy as the community has sought to become the paradigm for senior memory support in the Miami-Dade County area. Unique to East Ridge is the involvement of its residents, who spearheaded the research and guided the development of the new Three Palms Health Center as well as its adoption of the Teepa Snow program.

Wright works closely with families in helping them have realistic expectations for their loved ones living at Palm Lane.

“While many memory care communities call families when something isn’t going well, at East Ridge, my philosophy is to call with good news,” she said. “Initially, this comes as a surprise to a family when I may call; they are concerned something is wrong.”

But, her calls to families often is to share a positive highlight about their loved one’s day.

“We understand it’s very difficult on a family when their loved one needs the care of a memory care community. But when they hear and see the improvements their family member is making, it’s very rewarding,” Wright explained. “One son saw his father sit with other residents and was water painting with the group. This wasn’t something the son thought could be possible. His father had been inattentive before moving to Palm Lane. Families see a difference between from when their loved one was living at home versus living here, in a memory support neighborhood with specially trained staff.”

Wright’s background complements her new responsibilities at Three Palms. Prior to joining East Ridge, she was a teacher and taught second through fifth grade for seven years. She then decided to go to nursing school where she took the fast track classes at Fortis College in Cutler Bay and received her RN degree. Through it all she juggled family and four children.

At work she gives it her all, directing her energy to the residents and staff at Palm Lane.

“I enjoy teaching others and helping our team work with the residents,” she said. “We’re very hands on and have learned to take each day as it comes when it comes to our memory care residents.”

In addition to groundbreaking practices in memory care support, the design of Palm Lane at East Ridge was built to suit the specific needs of memory care residents. Its “smaller neighborhood” concept offers secure walking areas that are easily within reach of every resident’s apartment. The first floor offers accessibility to the outdoors for greater stimulation, with beautifully landscaped enclosed garden courtyards. Activities for residents are especially geared to residents’ interests such as music, art and the outdoor environment.


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