The Safe Harbor Memory Care Neighborhood at The Saybrook at Haddam continues to grow and develop as one of the region’s premier residences for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related illnesses. With Kathy Hallett now at Safe Harbor’s helm as its new director, some wonderful happenings are taking place in the community.
With a background in dementia and senior care as well as education and marketing, Kathy has developed customer service and communications skills that she has translated to the field of senior care. She knows the power and importance of having residents, families, and care teams work openly and cohesively to truly meet the needs of each resident at Safe Harbor.
Kathy is working to create synergies between the programming and care teams at Safe Harbor – and to leverage how each depends on the other. For instance, research shows that proper eating and drinking are some of the greatest challenges for folks with dementia, which affects their participation in all other daily social and wellness activities. So, while we always provide nutritious food choices, we now work throughout each department to ensure residents are eating healthy snacks throughout the day and staying hydrated by stopping at our new hydration stations for fruit-infused water breaks. We even have incorporated little interesting changes like using colorful dinner plates, playing music, and offering visual menus at meal times.
We also are planning more off-site activities for Safe Harbor residents. Each week, we will take a trip to a local museum, library, restaurant, concert hall, or other venue. This will be in addition to our weekly scenic drives which have become a favorite event for many residents.
We have begun hosting joint programs with the entire Saybrook at Haddam community. These have included our pumpkin decorating contest, cookie socials, and concerts. Added to this mix will be monthly “family game nights” when family and friends can join residents for themed meals (such as “build your own burger night”) followed by fun, interactive games in the great room.
We also are opening up our kitchen to help residents who enjoy doing their own cooking, baking, and candy making. This favorite activity brings back wonderful memories for residents and lets them share their lifelong talents.
“In just a short time, I have come to cherish everyone who lives or works at Safe Harbor,” Kathy said. “It has been a true pleasure getting to know the personalities of residents who are warm, funny and loving people. I have also enjoyed working with family members who are an integral part of the care and well being of each resident. Memory care truly requires a full team effort and that is what we have here at Safe Harbor.”
Kathy entered the senior healthcare field primarily because of her own personal experience helping her 92-year-old mother, Irene, through early and mid-stages of dementia. About 12 years ago, Irene began showing concerning signs of dementia and Kathy, an only child, began a journey of understanding the disease. She applied her increasing level of knowledge to plan for and navigate her mother’s changing care needs, and to nurture and maintain their own special relationship.
Through this ordeal, Kathy realized her communications, leadership and management skills were very important to the way she interacted with the doctors, nurses, caregivers, administrators and others involved in her mother’s care. She saw many good and bad aspects of how people approached memory care and developed a passion for helping families in her same situation.
This led Kathy to change careers and move into the field of assisted living and memory care for seniors. She worked with rehab patients and dementia residents at Aurora Senior Living in East Hartford, the Bloomfield Center for Health and Rehabilitation, and Atria Greenridge Place in Rocky Hill. In these positions, she helped develop personalized, respectful care plans for residents that focused on bringing out their best and maintaining a high quality of life. She received extensive training on dementia care, Reiki, therapeutic recreation, and grief counseling, and became a community dementia facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Kathy continues to share her knowledge with the families, residents, and fellow team members at The Saybrook at Haddam and Safe Harbor. Her door is always open to anyone who would like to discuss the care needs of a loved one with memory-related illnesses and looks forward to welcoming as many people as possible to the Safe Harbor Memory Care neighborhood.
Kathy will be re-starting The Saybrook at Haddam’s Dementia Caregivers Support Group under the guidance of the Alzheimer’s Association beginning in January 2017. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-345-3779.