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The Blake works to enhance quality of life for memory care patients

Suzi McKee • Jan 20, 2020 at 4:30 PM


Though it’s been open for less than a year, The Blake at Kingsport has established a reputation in the Tri-Cities for “wowing” residents and visitors alike with its resort-style amenities, delicious food and exciting activities. It’s less well-known that The Blake is also home to a secure memory care community offering those same amenities in a calming, low-stress environment for older adults with moderate to severe memory impairments.

Nicole Briggs, executive director at The Blake, will tell you that one of the most enjoyable parts of her job is walking the journey with her memory care residents and their families. The newly opened facility has 48 memory care apartments that feature amenities to enhance the quality of life for the residents.

“I enjoy watching the process of family members re-establishing their relationships as loved ones. I liken it to having a cake with delicious icing,” Nicole began. “As caregivers they function as both the cake and the icing, but with our staff handling the care, they can resume their relationship as a family member with all the benefits of that icing that adorns the cake.”

In fact, Nicole says The Blake cares as much for family members as the residents in their charge. “Many times, the family member experiences guilt at having to leave their loved one in our care. We cry with them, hold their hands, encourage them, and then watch as the process unfolds that allows them to come and eat with their family member or engage in some of our special activities that re-establish their family roles,” she continued.

The large private studio apartments are unique to the residents who live there. “They can bring a piece of home with them,” Nicole explained, “or they can completely redo their décor and begin another chapter in their lives with us.”

To begin, the residents receive three chef-prepared meals daily; residents and family members can choose the “daily special” or order from the full menu that’s available. “The food is really delicious,” Nicole said with a smile, “and it gives everyone time to enjoy pleasant conversation.”

Memory care residents can also participate in a host of activities that focus on various parts of their daily lives. There is a full-time “walk with me” coordinator who leads activities throughout the day. Each day begins with daily devotions and exercise followed by a hearty breakfast to start the day off on the right foot. Residents enjoy access to a courtyard designated specifically for memory care residents with a water feature adorned with lovely plants and areas for rest and relaxation.

“Our memory care residents take trips out into the community,” Nicole added. “They go to movies, concerts, plays, and sometimes just take scenic drives to reconnect with nature.” The Blake has a higher than average ratio between caregivers and residents which adds to the safety and security factor.

“Our nurse call program is one of the most technologically advanced in the area,” Nicole said. “Residents in memory care are often unable to summon care with traditional systems. With the Vigil system, we use passive sensors and sophisticated software to ensure resident safety while respecting privacy and dignity.”

Memory care residents have their own sitting room complete with a piano for singing and church services, an activity room where they can work on projects, and access to the spa where they can get their hair and nails done. Residents can also use the “it’s never too late” interactive computer program for exercise and other activities. “We have a big-screen TV with lots of recliners where we host a movie each evening,” Nicole continued, “and we find that lots of our residents just enjoy that time with others.”

The Blake hosts quarterly educational events for the public as well as families of residents. “We also have a monthly roundtable discussion on a variety of topics that helps educate people about the importance of quality memory care,” Nicole added.

“All of our residents have a distinct purpose for their life,” Nicole stated, “and our purpose here at The Blake is to help them experience a host of activities and enjoy a quality of life that they truly deserve.”