By Alexander Germanis
Thousands of years ago in the Middle East a king known as Melchizedek ruled over a land called Salem. Derived from the Hebrew word for peace, Salem’s full name was Uru-Salem, from which we now get the name Jerusalem, or City of Peace.
Perhaps since those Old Testament days has the name Salem never been more appropriate than at Apostolic Christian Skylines in Peoria. Here, the newly expanded and remodeled Salem Memory Care is a place where its residents can find a form of peace usually absent for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Serving With Faith
Apostolic Christian Skylines (AC Skylines) has been operating for nearly 110 years and since the mid-1990s, Salem has been its five star memory care community and a state-of-the art facility. Nevertheless, the time had still come for an expansion and upgrade.
“Prior to our remodel and expansion, we were devoted to the 17 people we served at Salem,” says AC Skylines Executive Director Matt Feucht. “We are now serving 22.”
Those 22 residents and indeed every resident of the continuum of care community that is AC Skylines is served in the best Christian tradition. “As a not for profit, church-owned community, we try to bring our Christian values out as we care for those we serve,” Matt continues. “We and the staff we hire see this more as a ministry rather than a job. Those are important values to us.”
The desire to serve is exactly what drew Matt to AC Skylines in the first place. Originally employed in agriculture and construction, he wanted to live out his faith through his work and AC Skylines was the answer.
Matt is not alone in this sentiment. Salem Memory Care Director Emily Tumilty has striven to show nothing but a sincere care shown for those under her watch. “It’s such a loving environment,” she says. “I’ve seen it so many times in my 12 years of experience that once a resident gets to Salem, and the resident and family get adjusted to the new environment, they do not want to leave. We take it as such an honor to care for residents with dementia, and we are honored to serve the family members as well.”
In the few instances Emily has seen families need to move their loved ones out, they are hesitant to do so. “The families trusted us so much with their loved one that the thought of Salem staff not caring for them was a difficult pill to swallow,” she shares.
When AC Skylines first opened Salem, it was always set up to feel like home. Now, with state of the art upgrades, new finishes throughout, another private room, and more space to share time with loved ones, Salem is still filling the needs for those who require memory care services.
One of those needs is daily activity. For those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, regularly engaging the mind and actively interacting with others is of vital importance.
“Our activities focus on meeting each resident where they are cognitively and ability based,” Emily explains. “We want to be sure that residents are getting to do the things they enjoy, ranging from going out for a drive and getting Dairy Queen, to art classes with volunteers, baking, and bowling.”
As many parents can attest, the television can be a cheap and effective babysitter, but when it comes to being an effective tool for cognitive health and social interaction it can be more of a hindrance. Emily proudly points out the activity staff at Salem works hard to ensure the television is never the main form of entertainment for their residents.
Besides the activity staff, there are of course highly trained professional certified nursing assistants on staff 24 hours a day. “With the expansion,” Emily adds, “we plan to have three CNAs for the 22 residents, which overall is a great staff to resident ratio.”
The Skylines Way
At AC Skylines in general and Salem in particular, the staff abides by a philosophy known as The Skylines Way.
With three core principles: compassionate care giving, respect for everyone, and professionalism always, The Skylines Way is a way of thinking and acting that keeps the staff at Salem in the right frame of mind as they go about their days. “If we tick all those boxes, then we can walk out at the end of the day knowing we’ve done our best,” Emily says.
“Being compassionate, respectful, and professional doesn’t just get applied to those we serve, but also our co-workers and families,” she continues. “Those principles are in the foundation of how we deliver services and are something we refer to with all our staff.”
Part of compassionate service comes by seeing their residents as human beings to be valued rather than as a series of objectives that need to be completed. This is at the very root of how The Skylines Way is executed. “When someone moves into our community, it’s not an expectation that they conform to how we do things,” Emily states. “We adapt to them and we promote residents to continue doing everything they can for themselves. Our residents matter and our residents having a choice matters to us.”
A Special Breed
Places like Salem are not only essential they are becoming ever more necessary as a larger portion of the population reaches senior status. “Many older adults, as they age, have difficulties with their memory and without a specialized space like Salem there would be a lot of people we would not be able to serve,” Matt states. “Alzheimer’s is not going away and we have to be able to adequately serve those who have it.”
Apostolic Christian Skylines is a special place because it is so well staffed by people who have such a rare capacity to serve.
That desire to serve those at Salem is, therefore, an exceptionally rare ability. “It’s a special breed of people that love working in memory care,” Emily agrees. “And while I wish there were more, it’s like a badge of honor to say you work in memory care.”
At its heart, Salem is a community of peace. It is a refuge from the world and a familiar home for those struggling to hold on to who they are. Because of the tireless service of those at Salem, residents and their loved ones can find more than just peace of mind, they can find a peace in their souls.
Apostolic Christian Skylines is located at 7023 Northeast Skyline Drive in Peoria, Illinois. If you would like to arrange to tour Skylines to see if it’s the right community for you or your loved one, please contact us at (309) 683-2500 or visit us on the web at www.acskylines.org.
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