When Trinity Village Nursing Home on Washington Avenue closed in 2009, there were plans in the following years to tear it down to make way for residential apartments. But when Bashar Hamami sees an opportunity to make an impact in the community, he takes it. Purchasing the building in April of this year, he quickly formulated plans with Keith Gander, an experienced health care administrator, to make the empty space into a business completely new to the Evansville area: a facility solely dedicated to dementia care. Shortly after, construction for Oasis Dementia Care began.
Originally built in 1969, renovating the facility has proven to be a lot of work. With the help of designer Elizabeth C. Brawley, president of Design Concepts Unlimited and a specialist in designing Alzheimer’s facilities, Hamami and Gander are striving to create a space specifically for individuals with dementia, an illness affecting memory, attention, language, and problem solving. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of this disease. “The lighting, the color scheme, the flooring — everything is being developed for that aging eye and that person with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” says Gander, chief operating officer of Oasis. The building requires new air conditioning, electrical, fire and safety, and sprinkler systems. New monitoring and GPS systems are being installed as well, which will help staff members keep track of the residents. “We’re not sparing any expense when it comes to safety,” Gander says. “Every bit of this facility is going to be secure.”
Dementia care usually is reserved for a wing of a hospital or a section of a larger care facility with rotating employees. Stand-alone dementia facilities are rare, and Oasis intends to be an all-in-one resource for its future residents. With a barbershop, beauty shop, chapel, two outdoor spaces, several activity rooms, and a residential care license, Hamami and Gander are building a community.
“Each resident will have a very individualized care plan that is designed specifically for them,” Gander says. And with training in the Best Friends™ approach to dementia care, staff members are required to get to know the residents beyond their basic chart information. This approach encourages close friendships for a more comfortable and enjoyable environment. Gander is the first master trainer of this method in Evansville, and Oasis will be the only dementia care facility in the area that utilizes this personal method.
Another very unique aspect of the center will be the use of Snoezelen rooms. These areas are multi-sensory environments meant to relax participants while also bridging cognitive, perceptual, behavioral, and physical impairments. Snoezelen rooms incorporate objects that are visually stimulating — anything from fiber optics and colored lights to mirrors and bubble tubes. The rooms will also use music, fragrances, and various textures to stimulate senses. The Snoezelen concept originally was developed in the late 1970s for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and it has become a popular method for dementia patients. Oasis Dementia Care will have two Snoezelen rooms.
Oasis will offer three different types of care: assisted living, adult daycare, and respite care. Thirty-nine single occupancy apartments are reserved for assisted living. These rooms will include a small bathroom and kitchenette, as well as videophones to help residents maintain a visual connection with their loved ones. To assist residents in remembering their own rooms, memory boxes with pictures of loved ones will be placed outside the door. The adult daycare aspect of the facility will accommodate 25 individuals. The respite unit, which allows for short-term stays, will have six rooms.
Ultimately, Gander and Hamami’s goal for Oasis Dementia Care is simple: to provide a soothing oasis for all those affected by dementia, including family members, which is why the facility is not only very active in the Alzheimer’s Association, but also a location for support group and family care group meetings. “Our residents are going to thrive here,” says Gander.
Oasis is expected to open later this year. For more information about the facility and its services, visit www.oasisdementiacare.com.