United Active Living’s memory care service, United Minds, is the subject of a short documentary film available to view on United’s YouTube channel. The video profiles Fish Creek resident Con Irving, his wife Dorothy and their daughter Karen Leussink. As well, the program speaks with United Minds manager Amy McDonough and two dementia experts who toured United’s two communities and received a first-hand look at how its innovative memory care program works.
Following their visit, United’s approach to dementia care earned accolades from Dr. Allen Power and Daniella Greenwood.
“United is a trailblazer, going against the grain of the safe and easy way. This is a path that most people have not embarked on yet,” said Dr. Power, an international educator on transformational models of care for older adults, particularly those living with changing cognitive abilities. “I’ve always encouraged people to think about creating inclusive communities and not segregating people based on a diagnosis. What I love is finding a community like United.”
“I think United is courageous,” said Daniella Greenwood, a consultant, speaker, author and activist who is a proponent of inclusive communities in Canada and Australia. “You are going against a system that is focused on disease, disability and categorizing people. It’s easier not to be inclusive. Creating such a practice shows others that it can be done. It’s also about doing the right thing.”
In the short film, United Minds manager Amy McDonough points out that United doesn’t segregate residents based on their cognitive or physical abilities. Rather, residents with dementia live on the same floors as everyone else, they eat in the same spaces and attend the same programs. Importantly, couples stay together even if they have differing needs.
“The person with dementia isn’t lost; they are still there. Our job as caregivers is to find out what makes them who they are, how we can provide meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging here with us. We don’t separate couples should one of them have dementia. We keep them together. So many changes happen to a couple’s relationship so we support them both.”
Fish Creek residents Conrad and Dorothy Irving came to United four years ago after Dorothy was diagnosed with dementia. “We looked at three or four places so we could live together. But others wanted to separate us. That was upsetting to me,” said Con. “We decided United was the best place for both of us. Several residents have made friends with Dorothy, and I know I can go out and residents and employees are watching out for her. I know as a caregiver I have to look after myself. I’m comfortable knowing she is in good hands.”
“There’s always a risk in being a frontrunner,” said Greenwood. “Over 10 years ago, United took a risk. Everyone is welcome to live here. They won’t lock you away. There are no guidebooks, they just did it and the sky didn’t fall.”
“United said we are not waiting for others to prove this is the right thing to do, we are just doing it,” said Power. “You should never ask what the risk is of doing something without also asking what the risk is of not doing it.”
The short documentary film was produced for United by Sherana Productions. Watch it here.
Talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange in-person or virtual tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.
Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.