Having worked in elder care throughout her life, Pam Fain knew exactly what she was looking for when she needed to move her mother, Leola O’Brien, into assisted living. After visiting Academy Point at Mystic, she was confident that it was the right choice.
“I could sense the family atmosphere immediately,” says Fain, who now works as an activities assistant at Academy Point. “Some people don’t know there are communities like this. They think their only choice is to go to a nursing home.”
Fain wants others to understand their options and says everyone familiar with Academy Point at Mystic knows that the community’s associates make personal connections with each resident. They also participate with them in daily activities to keep them active and engaged with life.
Heather Farnell, program director at Academy Point, says the activities focus on six dimensions of wellness: emotional, intellectual, physical, sense of purpose, social, and spiritual. For example, a movie screening might also include a discussion on the film’s subject and what emotions it inspired.
Other activities at Academy Point include weekly wine socials, art programs, trivia nights, author visits, exercise programs, music, games, and outings to local attractions. A resident council regularly gives feedback on activities residents would like to see. And an app with an interactive online calendar and private messaging allows families to not only see what activities are available, but also what activities their loved ones have participated in.
Farnell says Academy Point is flexible to each resident’s interests. She notes how one woman, a baking aficionado, was inspired by a monthly cooking demonstration put on by the community’s dining services director and head chef. She shared her cake recipe with him and assisted in making it for the next demonstration.
“We’ve really developed our programs in the past year or two, because we’re listening to what our residents say they want to do,” says Farnell.
Associates do their best to accommodate residents with activities which make them feel comfortable. A former music teacher was allowed to bring her piano, which was set up in a common area after she expressed interest in starting a music program. Fain says her own mother enjoyed feeling a sense of purpose by “helping” the housekeeping staff clean.
“Academy Point truly goes above and beyond,” she says. “We want each resident to have the best experience when moving in, and we want their family to have peace of mind about their loved one being here with us.”
With the help of family members, each new resident fills out a short biography before moving into Academy Point. The information they provide helps associates ease their transition into the new environment. The bio includes what makes the resident happy, how comfortable they are with groups, and whether they are a morning or evening person.
As part of Academy Point’s “Angel Program,” each new resident is paired with an associate for their first few weeks. The associate shows them around, introduces them to other associates and residents, escort them to programs, and establish a personal connection that also helps ease the transition.
New residents are encouraged to share a personal wish through the community’s “Dream Now” program. Every month, one of their wishes is drawn, and Academy Point associates work to grant that wish. One resident received a party with an Oklahoma theme, because she was born and raised there. Another simply asked for an outing to his favorite sandwich shop.
“We’re really focused on personalizing everything and fulfilling our mission to ‘Elevate Human Connection,’” says Farnell.
Academy Point at Mystic is one of 53 communities comprising Benchmark Senior Living, the leading senior living services provider in the Northeast. Benchmark, which is celebrating its 20th year in 2017, offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation services, and skilled nursing in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Formerly the home of the historic Mystic Academy, the Academy Point building is a local landmark that was beautifully renovated in 2001 into 70 studios and one-bedroom apartments for seniors over age 55. In addition to assisted living and short-term care, the community also offers Harbor Memory Care unit for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments.
The dining room on the upper floor offers an impressive view of the Mystic River, and the “sensory dining” experience allows guests to see and smell their food as it is prepared. The kitchen staff will also create specially textured meals for residents requiring softened meals.
A country kitchen regularly serves up cookies and other treats, while an outdoor patio hosts lobster bakes, barbecues, gardening, and lawn games. Residents and families also enjoy a library, a community room with a fireplace, and several common areas filled with books, games, and comfortable seats.
Academy Point was recently honored with two Excellence in Service awards from the Connecticut Assisted Living Association (CALA). And Benchmark’s chefs from three sister communities swept the top awards in CALA’s culinary competition this past March – representative of the creative and skilled culinary experts at every Benchmark community.
The company has also been recognized as a favored employer: the Hartford Courant named the Benchmark Senior Living network as one of Connecticut’s best workplaces in 2016, and both the Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal have named it to their best places to work for nine and six years, respectively.
Each of Benchmark’s 57 communities recognizes and thanks an associate who lives the company values with the Annual Service Champion Award. The recipient is chosen for best exemplifying the company’s “Elevate Human Connection” mission and for going above and beyond in personalizing service to residents, families, and fellow associates.
Executive Director Bonnie Pollard-Johnson says, “Pam was chosen to receive this year’s Annual Service Champion Award from Academy Point. She and her husband Scott were invited to attend the Annual Awards Gala, where one community champion is honored with the Benchmark Service Champion Award. Pam is one of our heroes and is deserving of this champion distinction”.
“It’s just a very happy atmosphere,” says Fain. “I love coming to work at Academy Point. I come early and stay late, because I love our residents, their families, and my fellow associates.”
Academy Point at Mystic is located at 20 Academy Lane in Mystic. For more information, call 860-536-1133 or visit www.academypointatmystic.com.