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Making a Difference Every Day

  July 03, 2016

By David Heitz

In June 2005, Hattiesburg welcomed the newest assisted-living community to the area. Alden Pointe Assisted Living, a 45-bed community nestled among the neighborhoods of Oak Grove, has established itself as the premier community for excellent care.  Kathy McPhail, Executive Director, has been at the helm since the fall of 2004 when ground was broken for construction of Alden Pointe. As a licensed social worker and leader in the field of aging, she understands how important it is to provide excellent care for her residents, while also providing assurance for families that their loved ones are being cared for in the same way she would want her own aging parents cared for.

When walking into Alden Pointe, you immediately feel the difference. There is no institutional feeling. It feels like home. When asked what makes Alden Pointe so special, Kathy is quick to give credit to her staff. For Kathy, they are the foundation of what makes Alden Pointe so successful. After many years together, they have become a family and work as a well-defined team to ensure that the residents’ needs are met. Staff members become an extension of the residents’ family, and families feel confident in knowing that the same individuals take care of their loved one’s, day in and day out. It is important that our residents and families see the same faces every day and develop relationships with them.    

Many employees have been with Alden Pointe for several years. In fact, about 85 percent have been there long-term. In today’s healthcare profession, that is unusual. The experience, dedication, and commitment for providing quality care to our residents are unparalleled. The staff understands that they are making a positive difference, not only in the lives of our residents, but also their families. 

Different neighborhoods for different lifestyles
Another important thing to consider when choosing an assisted-living facility is whether you and your loved one feel comfortable about the other residents who live there. We all age differently. Some seniors remain fairly active, mobile, and social, while others suffer from dementia or illnesses that require extra attention. They may be less mobile and less social. Some seniors prefer quiet when they are older and don’t want to play bingo, for example.

At Alden Pointe, the community is divided into three “neighborhoods.” This way, residents can live in the neighborhood that is the best match for their needs and desires. The three neighborhoods include a memory-care wing with extra security to prevent residents with dementia from wandering off.

Each community has its own dining room, activities room, and laundry facilities, with a dozen apartments in each wing. This keeps everything from personal care to housekeeping at manageable levels, minimizing lost items and allowing for a higher level of excellence in care. It is not unheard of for memory care facilities to be two-level, 70-plus apartment communities. No matter how stunning a facility looks, remember comfort and care matter most.

That said, Alden Pointe is lovely and considered tops in terms of its aesthetics too. Southern-cooked meals keep residents’ taste buds active. The smaller wings and individualized kitchens make it easier to accommodate residents who may need a special diet (such as no fried foods or salads that don’t contain leafy vegetables).

More than meets the eye: not all assisted living communities created equally
Assisted living is a loosely regulated business, and they are not all created equally. For example, most do not have nurses on staff around the clock. Many people are shocked to learn this.

At Alden Pointe, there is always a nurse on duty. “That is not a requirement,” McPhail said. “I just felt it was something we needed. If I had a loved one here, I would want to know there was a nurse in the building to handle any situation, 24/7.”

The head nurse is McPhail’s husband of 35 years, Ricky. He went back to school to become a registered nurse many years ago after earning a bachelor’s degree in forestry and working as a registered forester for the state of Mississippi and as a private consultant.

For those choosing a memory-care community for their loved one, it is important to ask what qualifications a place has in order to brand themselves “memory care.” For some places, it’s nothing more than locks on the doors.

The McPhails, however, are trainers in Dementia-Capable Care, which is a resident-centered program that utilizes care partners, not caregivers.

“We want to provide the care they need, and also try to keep them as independent as possible,” Kathy said. “We focus on what each individual can do, instead of focusing on what they can’t do. We adjust our care depending on that individual’s needs.”

Employees at Alden Pointe are anxious to learn all they can about you or your loved one prior to move-in. That way, they can be sure to provide the same comforts and activities that have always brought each individual resident joy in life. Some residents may enjoy helping housekeeping fold clothes, as it reminds them of the old days and having all their children in the nest. Many people with dementia, in particular, enjoying feeling they have a job at the assisted-living community. Others are perfectly content to sit in a comfortable chair and listen to music.

Getting out and having fun is a priority at Alden Pointe, too
While the level of care is of upmost importance when choosing an assisted-living facility, it is important to remember that these communities have actually been created with a social model in mind. Alden Pointe doesn’t fail to deliver in that regard either.

Its 15-passenger bus means staff can take several residents at a time wherever they may want to go. Not only do they go on shopping trips and lunch outings, but they also attend special community events — concerts, festivals, museums, or “Really, anything our residents are interested in doing in the community,” Kathy said. Of course, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments is also provided.

Activities aren’t restricted to off-site outings. Every day, residents can play Scrabble, memory games, enjoy music therapy, or worship. There are parties for every occasion, including Easter, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween (complete with tiny tots who come to Trick-or-Treat).

Unlike many corporately owned facilities, Kathy McPhail is able to operate with autonomy that other executive directors don’t have. For those who have experienced having a loved one in an assisted-living community, they can appreciate what that means. “I don’t have to spend every day in corporate meetings or conference calls,” McPhail said. “I can focus on our residents. Families know that they can come to me and get a decision, not wait a week to hear back from corporate.”

Alden Pointe is located at 2 Courtland Drive, Hattiesburg, MS, 39402. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 601-296-9711 or visit
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July 03, 2016
Keywords:  Feature Story

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