The Wildwood Senior Living exerior shot
The Wildwood Senior Living in Joplin, MO, is the first in the nation to achieve the joint Commission’s Assisted Living Memory Care certification. (Image courtesy of The Wildwood Senior Living)

A Missouri senior living community is the first such community to receive the Joint Commission’s assisted living memory care certification.

The Wildwood Senior Living, an Arrow Senior Living Management community in Joplin, MO, was awarded the certification Aug. 18. The community simultaneously achieved the Joint Commission’s assisted living accreditation — the fourth Arrow community to obtain that accreditation.

Arrow’s Vitalia North Olmsted community in Ohio became the second stand-alone assisted living community in the nation, and the first in the Buckeye State, to receive assisted living accreditation in 2022, followed by its Vitalia Rockside in Seven Hills, OH, and its Hudson Grande Senior Living in Hudson, OH. The SelfhelpHome, a nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Chicago, was the first community to achieve The Joint Commission’s assisted living community accreditation.

The assisted living memory care certification seemed like “the next logical step” in Wildwood’s commitment to providing high-quality care, Wildwood Executive Director Dan Shields told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Exceeding expectations

The Wildwood — which offers assisted living, memory care and independent living — focuses on person-centered care and works to exceed customer expectations, Shields said. The community consistently ranks among the top communities in the nation in the US News & World Report’s Best Senior Living ratings. Wildwood also earned a Bronze Award in the Keep It Super Simple category of the Senior Living track in the 2019 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

The senior living community also obtained Great Place to Work certification. Shields said providing exceptional service to residents extends to its 100 employees.

“We believe hiring great people will attract great people and will keep great people,” he said.

Shields advised other providers considering accreditation to build on best practices. Wildwood is undertaking satisfaction surveys now to help make the community a better place to work and live, he said.

“Be open for change and better ways of doing things,” Shields said. “Joint Commission builds on the concept of continuous improvement. It also provides opportunities for us to provide great education for our staff — I think that helps with retention because we’re investing in our employees.”

Certifying high-quality dementia care

The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, launched the memory care certification program for assisted living communities in July, noting that 34% of assisted living residents have some form of dementia. The certification came two years after the launch of its assisted living community accreditation program

Arrow CEO Stephanie R. Harris, a McKnight’s 2019 Women of Distinction Hall of Honor inductee, said that the company is actively engaged in obtaining assisted living accreditation and memory care certification for the company’s entire senior living portfolio. Arrow has worked with Achieve Accreditation, a Joint Commission accreditation readiness expert, on applications.

The voluntary specialty certification is meant to recognize communities accredited by the Joint Commission and meet its standards to support the delivery of high-quality care for residents in whom Alzehimer’s disease or other forms of dementia have been diagnosed.

The new memory care certification requirements, which align with the Alzheimer’s Association dementia care practice recommendations, specifically address the needs of residents living with dementia, including environment-of-care requirements that organizations provide visual cues or landmarks in the physical environment to assist with wayfinding, as well as provide an environment in which noises that may overstimulate or distress residents are minimized. 

Additional requirements address human resources; information management; leadership; medication management; the provision of care, treatment and services; and the record of care, treatment and services.