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Copeland Oaks opens new 24-bed unit

October 29, 2012
Morning Journal News

SEBRING- Although it is not the first in the area to offer specialized dementia care, Copeland Oaks Retirement Community is looking to offer improved quality of life for its residents suffering from the illness.

The senior living community on Friday opened its new Memory Care wing in the Crandall Medical Center, a 24-bed, secured unit providing a "highly interactive, engaging environment" for residents with Alzheimer's and other dementias.

"It's going to be a place where residents of the community can call home, a place to try to unlock old memories and make new ones," said Judy Wilkins, Memory Care director.

According to Wilkins, the residents with dementia will now have their own area and use of facilities separate from the general population that will help best serve their specialized needs.

"Individualized care is key to helping in their individual diagnoses," she said. "These are people who have a lot left in life."

Wilkins explained that families of incoming residents with dementia must complete a thorough background form that includes what the resident's life had been like before developing the illness- information such as likes and dislikes, daily routines and past work schedules.

"We will know their memories and be able to meet each person on an individual level, fill their days and hours with things that make them happy," she said.

Structure is important to people suffering with dementia, she further explained, so residents will be allowed to use the facilities on their own schedules, sleep the hours that are natural to them, eat at the same times that they usually ate when they were well.

"We want to create individual moments, help each resident to live life to the fullest," she said.

Completed at a cost of $500,000, half through donations earmarked for the project, Memory Lane includes 24 private resident rooms, a main dining room and activity area with therapeutic kitchen, a formal dining room, a family room, a serenity room, two bathing spas, nursing and unit director's offices, storage and utility areas and an outside secured courtyard with gazebo and walking paths.

"At Memory Lane, the focus is on [residents'] strengths and not the deficits they may have," said Robert Cameron, Crandall Medical Center administrator.

Each staff member in the unit is specially trained in dementia care. There will be a registered nurse (RN) staff on duty 24 hours a day as well as a physician or RN nurse practitioners available 24 hours a day.

The project was managed by Murphy Contracting of Youngstown. The architect was Frank Pavlika of Atwater.

The facility hosted a formal ribbon cutting and tour on Friday and a community open house on Saturday. The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce helped mark the opening.

The Crandall Medical Center is a 188-bed center for rehabilitation and skilled nursing on the campus of Copeland Oaks Retirement Community in Sebring.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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