Tell us a bit about yourself and what Teresa’s House Assisted Living and Memory Care is!
TW – My name is Teresa Whittington, and I am an RN whose career and passion is senior care. My husband and I married in 1982 and have two sons and a daughter-law and a granddaughter who absolutely stole my heart!
My passion for seniors started early. After graduation from nursing school I briefly worked in Labor and Delivery and the ER but then in 1988 I got my first opportunity in senior care and absolutely fell in love with it.
I was fortunate to work with and learn from some amazing individuals early in my career and to use that education to truly make a difference for seniors. In the late 90’s, a community I led was named Best of Tarrant County by the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Later my communities were recognized by both national and international media, and we were even featured on NBC Nightly News for our innovative approaches and quality.
Teresa’s House is the name of our two Assisted Living and Memory Care communities, our first in Craig Ranch, McKinney and now our second in Argyle. These two represent everything my business partner and I have learned over our 35 year careers and are truly nationwide bests.
I understand that you also have a lot of experience in how to design a community for seniors and have even been nationally recognized for that. Tell us about your work with SAGE – the national organization that focuses on best practices in design.
TW – SAGE – the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments, reviews senior care communities nationwide and gives awards for designs that help seniors thrive. I was honored to be asked to serve on the board of directors and regularly serve on the judging committee that chooses the nation’s best design.
There are so many important aspects to design that are key to supporting seniors and we have worked to incorporate all of them in Teresa’s House. Our color palate is both beautiful but also therapeutic. We have no fluorescent lighting and our heating/cooling system is whisper quiet and incredibly comfortable. The furniture is all designed to be comfortable, supportive and durable – so it will stay beautiful. Our bathrooms are beautiful and highly functional. We built air-safe buildings that were called the “safest in the state” and those are just the beginnings of what all we have done. We even have special wardrobes for memory care that help cue seniors through the dressing process, which is so important for retaining dignity.
This really is a national best – tell us some of the features that make it special.
TW – When people tour, the #1 thing they note is “wow, you thought of everything” and we sure tried. Recognizing that no one was born and raised in an institution, we built a neighborhood of true houses. Everyone would love to stay at home, but being home by yourself isn’t good for you and no one’s home was designed for senior care. So we built 16-room beautiful ranch style houses, big enough for fun activities and social life and yet small enough that we truly know everyone. And I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing everyone.
We have on-site miniature horses for equine activities, a reminisce center with a fully functional vintage kitchen (where we bake and cook daily with the residents) and a classic car garage/mancave for the men. We have a four-acre community with beautiful walking trails, spacious front porches with comfortable seating and everything seniors need to thrive at this stage of life.
It truly is an amazing design, but there is more to it than that. You also feel passionate about top quality care, don’t you.
TW – Absolutely. As a nurse, I understand the importance of having nurses on-site, 24/7. I understand the importance of state-certified professionals providing care and passing medications. We have the highest level of staff and the best ratios because that is what it takes to truly provide the best in care. I personally work with every staff member to teach them how to work with our residents, especially those with memory loss.