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Azura: the experts in memory care

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Azura Memory Care

Julie Gey, director of community relations for Azura Memory Care in Kenosha, is shown inside the newly remodeled Azura home at 4600 52nd Ave. The home reopens to residents Dec. 5.

KENOSHA — Wisconsin’s experts in dementia, Azura Memory Care, is about to reopen one of its homes, completely and newly remodeled, to residents.

Wisconsin-based Azura, which has 14 memory care homes in the state, will reopen its extensively remodeled home at 4600 52nd Ave. here on Dec. 5. The home is one of two Azura Memory Care homes on the site and one of three Azura homes in Kenosha, the other at 7135 Green Bay Road.

After several months of remodeling, the home looks and feels newly constructed. “We took it down to studs throughout,” remarked Paula Gibson, Azura’s regional director of communications and engagement.

The project reconfigured 20 suites into 16. Some have expanded, and eight have their own private bathrooms.

The two Azura homes on the site are connected by a large, fenced park in back where residents are free to roam, rake leaves, water plants or play bocce ball.

Azura is dually licensed for both the frail elderly and people with a dementia diagnosis.

“That dual license allows us to help those with different cognitive levels,” Gibson said. “Often we help couples where one spouse has dementia and the other one doesn’t; this special licensure allows them to still live here together.”

What sets Azura apart in the memory care industry?

“We are the dementia experts and known for our specialization throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Gibson said. “We provide really specialized care for those who have memory loss.

“What I like to say is, if you have cancer, you would want someone caring for you and treating you that understood cancer.”

Amazingly, Gibson continued, “In the state of Wisconsin anyone can put ‘memory care’ on their sign. There’s no additional training required.”

However, Azura has developed and provides enhanced memory care training for its staff members: more than 90 hours in the first year. MOSAIC as it’s called includes both hands-on and online training including a “virtual dementia tour” that makes the person feel as though they have dementia, Gibson said.

And, even before staffers are hired, they are offered the chance to do four hours of job shadowing, “helping to see if they really understand who we care for,” Gibson said. “Because we’re known as the experts in Wisconsin, we do help some people that others just can’t, or won’t, help.”

Household Model

The resident-caregiver ratio at Azura is six to one, a very high staffing ratio for this line of work, Gibson said. To help those caregivers know the residents, each resident has an “enhanced quality of life profile” that tells caregivers everything from the resident’s favorite color, their bedtime routine and ways for caregivers to engage with them on a personal level.

Azura uses the “Household Model.” Gibson explained, “This is their home, we have the honor and privilege to work in it. Our goal is to engage them to do what they did at home and what brings them joy!”

That includes the food, which Gibson called “amazing. We try to make everything home-cooked. And meals are based on what our residents like.”

The new Azura home has numerous “purposeful destinations,” Gibson pointed out. One is a spot in a hallway with a large, framed, black-and-white photo of a young Elizabeth Taylor. On the opposite wall hang women’s hats, scarves and purses, so the ladies can dress-up for dinner if they like.

Another similar spot for men with, old-car art on the wall, has items for them to handle such as paintbrushes, a level and an oil can.

“Everything in our home has a purpose,” Gibson said. “The purposeful destinations are designed to evoke a memory, start a conversation or make a smile happen.”

Azura has an external quality-of-life program that includes outings to the south Azura home for activities there, to concerts, shopping, the Jelly Belly Candy Co. and the like.

Azura also partners with other organizations to provide hospice care when it becomes necessary. Gibson said, “Our motto is: ‘Once they come to Azura, they’re part of our family. We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that they can stay with us.’”

For more information about Azura Memory Care, call 262-220-2720 or visit www.azuramemory.com.

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