ROME, Ga. – One Rome nursing home is brand new, but it’s got a decidedly “old school” feel about it. Everything, from the blue-green walls to the dinettes, harkens back to the 1950s and there is a good reason for that.
The Harbor at Renaissance Marquis is a special care facility for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The creators didn’t want it to look or feel sterile like a hospital. They wanted it cozy and relaxing; something that would draw residents outward rather than inward. So, they created a place that looks like home a half-century ago.
“It looks like a Dick Van Dyke show,” said Ellen Leffew of the Harbor at Renaissance Marquis.
Renita Chambers, executive director of the facility, says it takes patients back to that era, “when they were younger, happier times.”
The facility is an Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Unit, and it opened in September. Almost everything at the facility was handpicked by Emily Leffew and her team off the internet, because of its mid-century feel.
“The furniture style is all from the 50s. I know some furniture they used to put the plastic over, and we thought about using that,” said Leffew.
They nixed the plastic covers, saying they were too squeaky. But they added a lot of fifties touches such as old classroom desks, dinette sets, even an old manual typewriter.
Chambers says everything down to the blue-green walls is designed to relax people.
“The idea there is that they stay calm, they stay happy,” said Chambers. “We have residents that will actually tour before moving in and families will bring them in and as soon as they come through the door, you can almost see the expression change.”
Leffew says all of this isn’t a time-trap, it’s a touchstone. It’s a connection between the past and the present.
“If they’re 88 and they say they’re 65, we are right there with them. We are here to support them. And give them happiness. We’re not here to change them. I wish we were here with a cure, but we’re not. But we’re here to make their live the happiest it can be,” said Leffew.
The facility’s directors say they based the memory care unit’s design on research that shows people with memory problems feel most comfortable in a familiar setting from their past. People with Alzheimer’s and dementia are often easily agitated and sometimes depressed, and they are hoping to reduce that.