Pictured above are (left to right): Katherine McCune, Raquel Mendoza, Susan Davis, Jennifer Garrison-Dean. Center- Veteran Brent Purdham

The Community Living Center (CLC) is a critical part of the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va. Made up of three distinct living areas, or neighborhoods, the CLC fosters an enjoyable and caring environment for both short and long-term residents.

Residents come from a variety of backgrounds and age groups and stay at the CLC for various lengths of time. No matter how long their stay, the medical center keeps things active for them.

Snoezelen rooms create a high-sensory experience for patients.

The staff utilizes a jam-packed activity calendar to provide entertainment and enrichment. From weekly music therapy sessions to trips to bowling outings, there is always something to do.

Rhonda Toms, the chief nurse of Geriatrics and Extended Care, oversees the nurses in the CLC. She elaborated on the fantastic selection of activities offered by different therapists on the units.

Peggy Allen, Joseph Allen

Peggy Allen, Joseph Allen

“The Cultural Transformation Committee works to maintain a home-like environment through multi-generational activities,” Toms said. “The committee hosts events with kids such as Easter egg hunts on hospital grounds.”

The CLC staff plans to expand their current programs and create new ones. For example, they are working to implement a snoezelen room for dementia patients.

Snoezelen rooms are therapeutic areas designed to provide highly stimulating elements to patients with dementia, brain injuries, and autism and other developmental disabilities. The rooms use a combination of lighting, colors, scents, sounds, and textures to create the desired high-sensory experience for patients.

Toms hopes the creation of a Snoezelen room, along with the construction of a ten-bed dementia care unit, will help improve the lives of dementia patients at McGuire.

Of course, many of the current and future endeavors in the CLC are only possible thanks to its dedicated, hard-working staff.

“The staff at the Richmond CLC is amazing at developing close relationships with residents,” Toms explained. “Staff members get to know residents well enough to list their likes and dislikes with ease.”

Toms said she and the other staff members strive to make a home away from home for our nation’s heroes.

Sydney Dudley is a junior at the Mathematics and Science High School at Clover Hill in Richmond, VA. Over the past three summers, she has participated in the student volunteer program at the Richmond VA Medical Center. She plans on studying English in college and pursuing an advanced degree in law. (And thanks to David Hodge, lead public affairs specialist.)

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Published on Dec. 20, 2018

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