Windsong - A Daughter's Tribute
Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of Karen Zlepnig, the co-founder of the Waterford Senior Living Group, her mother Gerry was the inspiration behind the development of an innovative approach for seniors’ memory care for ladies at The Waterford in Barrie, Kingston and Ottawa. In 2008, Gerry was diagnosed with Alzheimers’, a neurodegenerative disease and a leading type of dementia in seniors. Not long after, Karen moved her mom into the Waterford Retirement Residence in Kingston in its independent living community where she could benefit from the beautiful surroundings as well as its creative activity programming. Karen’s mom thrived in her new home where she enjoyed puttering around in its gardens and helping her daughter decorate seasonally.
In late 2011, Gerry’s disease progressed to the point where she needed care beyond what was offered in independent living. She had started to wander and become more confused. Karen recognized that it was time to find a secure home for her mother as The Waterford did not yet offer the unique and secure kind of care to which an advanced Alzheimers resident could respond and thrive. It was this realization that convinced Karen that a thoughtfully designed memory care neighbourhood was needed for the Waterford properties.
Karen’s search for secure memory care accommodation for her mother proved to be disappointing. Most properties she visited appeared overly focused on the security side of memory care services with little thought given to creating an environment that would keep residents happy, engaged and fulfilled. Then one day Karen came across a special home for ladies with dementia in a small town outside of Ottawa. It featured a small homelike atmosphere for just sixteen ladies. With the smell of home cooking one felt like you were stepping back in time to Grandma’s house and the ladies were free to enjoy the secure gardens as they pleased. The ladies were at ease, there was laughter and smiling faces as they enjoyed their daily activities together. After Gerry was settled into her new home, Karen was able to find peace of mind knowing that her mom was once again enjoying life.
At the same time, Karen was impassioned to design a continuum of care for The Waterford in Barrie to include a memory care neighbourhood for ladies and an assisted living neighbourhood. Karen and her husband Fred toured many retirement residences across the United States whose sole focus was memory care and gathered new and innovative ideas along the way. The resulting communities at Waterford Barrie became known as the Windsong Memory Care Neighbourhood for ladies and The Birches Enhanced Care Neighbourhood. The Windsong became the new home for fifteen ladies who now flourish in its intimate homelike setting where compassion and caring is the focus. Residents benefit from an amazing amount of freedom to securely enjoy all that The Waterford has to offer both indoors and out.
Having been such a great success in Barrie, Karen and family have created three new Windsong environments as part of the Waterford properites, one in each of Kingston, Ottawa South, and their newest property in Barrhaven/Nepean. Gerry may have faced some memory challenges in her later years, but through her daughter’s drive, determination and love, she left an “unforgettable” and rewarding legacy for the residents of The Waterfords’ Windsong Memory Care Neighbourhoods for ladies.