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In anticipation of their new Memory Care Center, Fig is partnering with Willow Valley Communities to share ongoing updates on the progress of this groundbreaking Center. Read the full story on the purpose behind the Center here.
In 2017, Willow Valley Communities began a pursuit to create a Memory Care Center that would transform the lives of those affected by dementia. The Willow Valley team consulted world leaders in dementia care and research, while also completing 25 benchmarking visits to the best memory care centers in the United States and abroad, including Hogeweyk—a top-tier dementia village in the Netherlands.
During the concept development, the Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation launched a capital campaign and successfully raised $20 million. Achieving this initial fundraising goal allowed the design and construction processes for the seven-acre site to begin. As a result, the Center may open as early as 2025.
The first step in the construction process was to revisit plans for the initial concept. Equipped with the benchmarking knowledge collected over the past five years, the team searched the world to find an architectural firm ready to take on the challenge of creating a world-class Memory Care Center. The latest research pointed to Europe, where memory care communities excel in raising the bar and adapting the environment to meet the social norms of various societies. After a thorough assessment of firms, one architectural team stood out above the rest—NORD Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Memory Care Center at Willow Valley Communities marks the firm’s inaugural project in the United States. NORD takes pride in their contribution to the development of healthy communities. Their Scandinavian roots and eco-conscious values have shaped their continually evolving regard for the role that architecture plays in enhancing social welfare. Empathy and diversity are at the core of their projects, with designs that support the coexistence of multiple generations and stages of dementia within the same space.
NORD helps mold these synchronous communities through use of sustainable resources, an appreciation of the natural landscape, innovations, and a working knowledge of the unique needs of many current and future users. They believe the quality of a project comes from co-creating with users, maintaining that the user is the focus of the design.
The firm was featured recently in The New Yorker magazine, in which the team was applauded for their newly designed dementia village in Dax, France. Though their designs and concepts are architecturally groundbreaking and eye-catching, their focus on embracing people is paramount. Their most recent projects in healthcare have two central themes: home and healing. Their aim is to create recognizable spaces so the people living and working within the community can feel safe and at home, without interruption in their daily routine. They create households in which residents can grow together as family. They create community spaces with flourishing gardens and meaningful destinations.
The person-centered care at the future Memory Care Center will extend beyond the residents it serves and their caregivers. Willow Valley Communities recognizes that dementia is a challenge for the whole family and “it takes a village” to partner with those affected by memory loss. That is why a memory care Institute, located within the Center, will offer essential amenities to the broader community.
The Institute will have the necessary components for addressing memory loss prevention, early identification, assessment, and support. With an emphasis on prevention, a Brain Café will have nutritious a la carte meals available for purchase.
The Brain Technology Center will house state-of-the-art technology systems where visitors can engage in brain games to stave off decline, self-assess their cognitive skills, and learn more about the modifiable risk factors that contribute to dementia.
A Memory Support Resource Center will offer information about brain health, dementia, and related disorders as well as available supportive services, including a Memory Support Group and Memory Cafés available to the greater Lancaster community. The Institute will offer opportunities to connect with and engage in current research studies geared toward brain function. An assessment and treatment center will have a team of neurologists and neuropsychologists who specialize in geriatrics and neurodegenerative disorders. Local physicians will be able to refer patients to the Memory Care Center for evaluation in hopes of identifying the best treatment available to each patient.
The Center will not only serve those who reside within the Center, but will also serve as a support system for caregivers and a hub for advances in brain health in this region. It will truly be a gift to the Lancaster community and beyond.
Willow Valley Communities welcomes members of the Lancaster community to participate in the Memory Support Group and the Memory Café, each hosted monthly on Willow Valley Communities’ campus. For questions or to join, please contact Mary Schreiber, Memory Support Resource Coordinator at Willow Valley Communities, at 717.490.8129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.