Ecumen Prairie Lodge Expands Its Unique Approach To Enhanced Memory Care

 Ecumen Prairie Lodge is doubling the size of its nationally known enhanced memory care program to meet a growing demand for its unique approach to dealing with the most challenging cases of dementia.

Before the expansion, one of the three Ecumen Prairie Lodge neighborhoods in Brooklyn Center housed 14 residents in enhanced memory care, along with 15 residents in traditional memory care.  In April, Ecumen management decided to convert the entire building to enhanced memory care and transition the traditional memory care residents to another building. 

“The decision to expand is need-driven,” said Janelle Meyer, housing director at Ecumen Prairie Lodge.  “Our success caring for residents with more challenging behaviors sets us apart.”

The expanded program for enhanced memory care now has newly remodeled space with increased security, newly painted walls, new flooring and a refurbished courtyard area.  New memory stations have been added throughout the building to encourage resident interaction.  Also, there will be nursing coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The new program will be fully operational October 31, 2013.

Ecumen Prairie Lodge is one of only a few providers in the country who do enhanced memory care for people with the more complicated diagnoses, which include frontotemporal lobe and Lewy body dementia. Only two other providers in Minnesota care for residents with especially challenging behaviors. 

The Ecumen Prairie Lodge enhanced memory care program was started five years ago and has been in the national spotlight ever since. It relies much more on highly personalized staff interactions and various engagement therapies than on the use of psychotropic medications.

“Our success comes from giving residents more one-to-one staff attention,” Janelle said.  “The staff really gets to know each person individually, and that knowledge helps guide residents through difficult situations.”

Also, Janelle said new staff goes through intensive training and all staff has continuing training.  “The staff is constantly sharing information with one another about what works and doesn’t work with each resident, so that we are always adding to our toolbox and building on our knowledge,” she said.

“The staff here is highly trained and committed to caring for residents,” Janelle said.  “Even though we handle the most difficult cases, we have very low staff turnover—about half the industry average.