Evergreen House is the The Village at Summerville’s new memory support neighborhood, which is currently under construction. From Evergreen House’s inception, I have worked in conjunction with Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina and McMillan Pazdan & Smith Architects to design this unique community, which will fully implement the Montessori for Aging and Dementia philosophy.
Tim Baressi, Executive Director, states “Evergreen House, along with our Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Health & Rehab will bring the full continuum of services to our current and future residents, expanding our Presbyterian Communities mission.”
Every aspect of Evergreen was designed specifically for the Montessori philosophy of living. The common spaces are brightly lit, open areas with slanted shelving that make it easy to access books and activity materials. Several small activity nooks provide opportunities for individuals to participate in hobbies and interest, such as drawing or painting, playing musical instruments, or sewing. The brightly lit and spacious dining area and kitchen enables elders to participate in meal preparation, access snacks and dine together in a family atmosphere. A self-serve food and beverage area allows for choice and self-sufficiency at all times. Evergreen’s outdoor spaces feature colorful gardens, covered walkways and enclosed courtyards that enable elders to enjoy the outdoors, whether walking, chatting with friends, bird watching, or working in the garden.
“Evergreen House provides residents with an environment designed and prepared for them to be successful, enabling them to fully participate in the life of the household and fill their days with positive, engaging experiences,” says Amy Laughlin, Director of Residential Life.
Evergreen’s interior spaces also include innovative research-based design principles for wayfinding that have been shown to enhance functioning and independence in older adults. For example, all bedrooms are placed around the perimeter of the shared spaces, allowing for freedom and autonomy as elders move about the community. Artwork using simple, bold imagery serve as landmarks to help residents find the different bedroom areas. Each grouping of bedrooms is easily visible through the purposeful use of lighting, enhanced contrast, and color schemes. Large, personalized room signs that feature a photo of each resident aid in wayfinding.
Care Partners at Evergreen House will be trained in the Montessori philosophy for dementia care by the Brush Development’s team member Margaret Jarrell. After getting to know the elders in the community, care partners will help residents relearn previous life roles as well as learn new roles they may enjoy, such as setting the table, helping with meal preparation, watering flowers, or doing laundry. Care Partners will encourage independence but are there to invite participation and provide gentle reminders to join an activity or participate in a role.
I am proud to be part of this exciting project, which will empower elders facing memory challenges to make meaningful contributions to their community. I will post an update after Evergreen House opens its doors and welcomes its first elders to the community!