In The News
September 1, 2012

True neighborhood mode

True neighborhood modelThe Texas border town of Laredo has seen its population double over the last 15 years, and the current oil and gas boom the region is experiencing means it’s going to continue to grow. With only two other skilled nursing facility operators in town, the planners behind the new Laredo Nursing & Rehabilitation Center knew for sure that the community had a huge need for a new skilled nursing facility.

The facility, which was completed this spring, is operated by Touchstone Communities. It covers 55,000 square feet and includes a 1,600-square-foot rehabilitation gym. Chris Von Dohlen, the property’s developer, describes the design of the building as a “modified K [shape] with upgrades.” The skilled nursing wings were designed with ample common areas in mind. Von Dohlen says this was done to help facilitate person-centered care.

The rehab gym serves as the central core of the building, with the skilled nursing units extending out from the center. Von Dohlen says he is particularly proud of the gym, which serves inpatient and outpatient adults.

The 120-bed rehab facility also includes an outdoor “therapy courtyard” where residents can practice walking on several different types of surfaces. These include gravel, asphalt, grooved pavement and blacktop, as well as a walking bridge.

The mission of Touchstone Communities is to “glorify God” through its commitment to resident dignity and clinical excellence, says Bob Kerr, Laredo Nursing and Rehab’s administrator. To this end, the operator observes a philosophy it calls Touchstone Compassionate Care. That’s one of the reasons that the center employs a neighborhood model of care.

“A true neighborhood model has a living room area and a dining room area in each neighborhood. Instead, we have a neighborhood, with a dining facility at the end of each wing,” Kerr explains.

To make the community feel more homelike, the hallways and corridors have recessed lighting and high ceilings that let in plentiful light. The décor features traditional Southwest colors and patterns that are bright and vibrant. The neighborhoods are named Rio Grande, Rio Bravo and Rio Colorado.

Kerr says that dining services for residents are a huge part of the center’s culture change efforts. The dining area is designed to feel as much like a restaurant as possible. Kerr hired a registered dietitian and a certified chef to help customize menus to residents’ dietary needs. Residents can take their meals in the neighborhood dining areas, in their rooms, or in more private parts of the dining rooms for those who need more assistance.

Kerr is proud of his community’s electronic medical records system. Touchstone designed a module called “Stop and Watch,” which requires direct caregivers to stop and fill out a 10-question activities-of-daily-living assessment survey for each resident at the end of every shift. Touchstone adopted the system to reduce hospital admissions.

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