A unique partnership between Cypress Cove at HealthPark Florida’s new assisted living memory care facility and Keiser University’s (KU) Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program has administrators from both organizations excited about the benefits being realized by KU students and by residents of The Cottage at Cypress Cove.
The partnership provides students from Keiser University’s Fort Myers campus OTA program the opportunity to apply their classroom clinical theories and ideas while working one-on-one with Cottage residents affected by memory loss. The new concept, says OTA Program Director Marcia Hamilton, is an “uplifting and motivating learning experience for our students” and better prepares them as future OT assistants working under direct supervision of a licensed occupational therapist.
The joint program concept was initially introduced to Cypress Cove by Mary Freyre, RN, Health Education Specialist for the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center. Freyre developed and initiated the “Occupational Therapy Strategies and Techniques for Family Caregivers Program and had been working with Keiser University in the program’s development.
“I am thrilled that Cypress Cove has taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity with Keiser,” remarks Freyre. “Those suffering with dementia desperately need their caregivers…I am so proud of Keiser University and Cypress Cove for taking this step.”
Cypress Cove and Keiser tested the concept in mid-February and it surpassed expectations of Cypress Cove Health Services Director David Gray. Together with nursing director Lisa Cox and program manager of The Cottage, Carleigh Racinski, administration of the program is viewed as a win-win for residents living at the highly touted four-household assisted living memory care facility.
The Cottage at Cypress Cove opened this past fall among much fanfare for its new standard of excellence in memory care. Featuring a visionary 45,000 square foot two-story small household design concept, the facility was built with person-centered care in mind by providing residents with all the comforts and freedom of living at home, plus providing them with an innovative activities program.
The Cottage is known for its extremely high ratio of caregiver to resident and the addition of Keiser’s OTA students have added a new dimension to activity program and by raising the caregiver to resident ratio well above a 1:1 interaction.
Student-resident engagement has been encouraging. “Residents are excited about the varied activities,” explains Racinski. “Many of the activities are quite different, creative and very entertaining.”
Plans are being developed between Keiser University and Cypress Cove, says Hamilton, which will bring her OTA students to The Cottage at least twice each month for a six to seven month period.
Carleigh Racinski, program manager of The Cottage at Cypress Cove, is equally “thrilled” about the exchange because she has seen greater resident engagement from activities introduced by students.
“We’ll continue exploring more options for keeping residents interested and active,” notes Gray. “We know what works for one (resident) may not work for another. The program possibilities are limitless and are true example of the innovative flexibility that we seek in activities.”
Gray, Cox, and Racinski all give credit to the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center for leading them into a partnership with Keiser University. “They opened the door and we can’t thank them enough,” says Racinski.
Photo: Keiser University Occupational Therapy Assistant students Laura Eyster (left) and Danielle Carfore (right) enjoy a piano keyboard activity with a resident of The Cottage at Cypress Cove assisted living memory care facility in south Fort Myers. Keiser University has entered into a joint memory care activity training program with Cypress Cove at HealthPark Florida’ newly opened state-of-the-art facility. The program provides students with training while offering added activities to The Cottage’s innovative care program. (Photo Supplied by Cypress Cove).