Discovery Senior Living’s SHINE Memory Care Program Takes a Scientific Approach to Dementia

Treating and caring for residents with dementia is an ongoing challenge, but innovative programs can help to give residents a greater quality of life. The SHINE Memory Care Program at Discovery Senior Living is one of those programs. The SHINE program takes a unique approach to memory care, and it was recently recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for its work.

Developing the SHINE Memory Care Program

According to Laura Sypniewski, National Director of Health and Wellness at Discovery Senior Living, the goal of the SHINE program was to develop a “truly person-centered approach, an approach that touched every aspect of life for the person living with dementia. An approach that truly enhances the life of that resident, and their family and the team.”

That program needed to be realistic and sustainable, and it needed to provide tools and education that the team could customize to every situation they encountered with a resident living with dementia.

The program’s development was a collaboration between a “multidisciplinary, multilevel internal team of experts, along with the guidance from some of our excellent national program experts,” explains Sypniewski. That team included hands-on caregivers, department and community leaders, and senior management. “We looked to our industry experts and relied on current research and guidance,” says Sypniewski. “We married that with the day-to-day realities, challenges, and rewards of working with people living with dementia.”

Knowing that the senior care industry faces turnover and staffing challenges, Discovery Senior Living and its community team members worked to build SHINE as a norm and culture in its communities. Program experts exist at multiple levels in each community. “There have been, and likely will be, times where the team as to go to the beginning and complete re-education and refocus their efforts,” says Sypniewski. “It is the strong teams in the community that have given SHINE strong roots to continue to grow.

A Unique Program Design

The SHINE program takes a unique approach to memory care. According to Sypniewski, the program “focuses not only around the person living with dementia, but also around the people living with the person with dementia.” Those people can include family and community caregivers, clinical team members, culinary team members, and more. “It is in sharing information, both current and historical, about the resident and their needs, wants, desires, history, and current interests, that our greatest successes are born. All of those successes are because that team comes together to solve the puzzle that is the disease of dementia.”

While Discovery Senior Living caregivers receive training, they also have access to SHINE’s education, tools, and resources. Each resident is unique, and family and residents can share information about their past and history, while the team is able to share information about where the resident currently is in their journey. “Training is recurring and ongoing, but education is ever lasting and occurs all day, every day,” explains Sypniewski.

Positive Feedback

So far, feedback on the program has been highly positive. Sypniewski notes that Discovery Senior Living hears feedback about how much families enjoy spending time with their loved ones – “watching and participating in a life being well-lived. All of our residents come with a rich history, amazing accomplishments, traditions, goals, and personality. The SHINE program is designed to enhance and highlight those pieces.”

The SHINE program’s comprehensive and unique approach has earned it a Certificate of Recognition from the Alzheimer’s Association. The program curriculum was thoroughly reviewed prior to this distinction being awarded. To date, Discovery Senior Living is one of just eight provider associations nationwide to have received this special recognition.

The SHINE Memory Care program is currently offered at 40 Discovery Senior Living communities throughout the United States.

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Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Featured Articles , Staffing , Training