CAREERS IN NURSING
TOUCHING LIVES – TOUCHMARK OFFERS MEMORY CARE AT ITS BEST
by Jason Chandler – Writer/Photographer
Debi Sims has been a registered nurse for 20 years working in the Oklahoma City area mostly in long-term care. She also worked in assisted living for a dozen of those years.
She went through a survey in January at Touchmark at Coffee Creek in Edmond. She had never experienced a perfect survey until this year when she became the memory care manager.
“I was shocked,” Sims said. “But what was even more shocking is that Touchmark had two previous perfect surveys.”
“So that made three years of perfect surveys.”
Touchmark is a retirement community offering the highest standard for senior living. It offers 24-hour nursing care.
“It’s a really nice memory care,” Sims said. “And I like the corporation a lot. Melissa Mahaffey and I worked together before we opened Cyprus Springs, which was a free-standing memory care. When she had an opening here in memory care she asked me if I might be interested.”
The memory care at Touchmark consists of four courts or areas for the seniors. Each court embodies 12 to 13 persons with two staff during the day and the evening, Sims said. There is one staff each night per court.
“Staffing is really good. The activities or life enrichment is exceptional here. I’ve never seen so much going on so they stay really active,” Sims said.
There is a lot of music and the singing of hymns. Music is piped in from almost 60 years ago. Sims finds herself singing along although she has not heard those songs for 50 years, she can remember “Love Potion Number 9”.
“I love that song and I don’t miss a single word because it’s fascinating,” she said. “My grandmother would put it on the record player for me when I was little.”
Touchmark at Coffee Creek in Edmond also has a memory care choir.
It’s going to be presenting a Christmas program. She said people living with memory care issues can remember every single word of a song they heard decades ago. They recall old church hymns and patriotic songs such as God Bless America, she said.
“Even though they can’t always formulate a sentence or understand what you’re saying, they can still remember the songs,” Sims said.
The crowd is standing room only and Sims cannot wait, she said. One of the residents was a pianist at his church. Sims was in her office recently when she heard beautiful concert pianist music, she said.
“And I go in there and he’s sitting there playing by ear, playing the piano,” Sims continued. “So I started making requests, and everything I asked him to play, he was able to play.”
“It was really good and the residents were all sitting around and watching him.”
The courts are integrated with people living with different degrees of memory loss. For anyone who requires a two-person assist or is no longer appropriate for assisted living memory care, Touchmark will work with families to transfer them to nursing care if that is what they need.
“But we try to keep them in assisted living memory care as long as we can,” Sims said. “But we don’t consider ourself to be an age in place.”
Touchmark encompasses independent houses, apartments, assisted living apartments and memory care.
Experienced nurses with longevity and compassion will do well at Touchmark, Sims said. But you try not to hire people who simply put on a good face for their desire to have a job, she explained.
All types of employees are vetted with the right scenario of questions.
“And ask them in a way to elicit an answer that shows they have a really good medical background or clinical background,” Sims said.
Patient safety is a priority at Touchmark, Sims said. She will ask an applicant if they were passing down a hall and noticed someone prone on a floor with a head wound, “What would you do? And if they were asking you to help them up what would you do?”
They shouldn’t say they would help the person up and render first aide, Sims said. Rather, Sims wants to hear them say they would find a nurse and stay with them and keep them comfortable until a nurse arrived.
“We don’t ever get anybody up until they’ve been assessed for fractures and injury,” Sims explained.
Sims is an active lady at work or home. She loves to be in a swimming pool or traveling.
“I love to travel,” she said. “I love sports. I love the Thunder and the Sooner football team to the point I about lose my mind that time of year,” she said.
Football season is only 20 weeks away, she said.