A few years ago, Dr. Claudia Warren-Taylor personally witnessed the inadequate approach to the treatment of senior citizens. The loss of a loved one was made all the more painful by the substandard quality of health care as her grandmother suffered a stroke and then died alone in a hospital room—because the staff told her family to leave. As a medical professional herself, Dr. Warren-Taylor vowed to start making changes in her own way.
“I just thought, I’ve never done that to a family member,” she says. “I invite them in to hold their hand. If a family member isn’t there, I go in myself and wipe their forehead. I stay with them.”
Her varied experience working in larger facilities had similar disappointments; patients weren’t receiving enough attention and were socially isolated, operations weren’t organized, medications were being missed or forgotten. While the luxurious hotel-style assisted living spaces looked nice enough, she realized there should be an alternative option, something both smaller—and smarter—for families searching for a place their loved ones could call home for their final years. Serenity Gardens Assisted Living, of which Dr. Warren-Taylor is CEO/COO, became that very place in 2011. It offers a home in the truest sense of the word with a residential feel and personalized care. Now with five unique communities from Potomac to Silver Spring, it’s Dr. Warren-Taylor’s crowning achievement.
“When our patients arrive, they’re not so confused because they’re in a ‘home’ that actually looks like a home,” she says. “It’s nice and comfortable. There are no signs out front saying it’s a business. I want people’s reactions to be, ‘Oh, this is different.’”
There are only two residents to every staff member at Serenity Gardens; at capacity, the communities house six to eight patients. The goal is familiarity over facility; patients are even invited to decorate their rooms to make them feel more at ease. Because of Dr. Warren-Taylor’s extensive medical background—she started as a nurse’s aide and rose through the ranks to obtain her doctorate. She’s attuned to her patients’ needs in a way that often prevents them from any unnecessary hospitalizations. She also prides herself on the programs they offer, from telemedicine to recreational activities like day trips and movie nights. To Dr. Warren-Taylor, that mental stimulation and social interaction is key when a loved one is reaching the end of their life. She hopes to reverse the challenging “nursing home” stigma by showing what assisted living could—and should—be.
“I think people feel guilty or embarrassed; they feel like they’re putting their family members away or abandoning them,” she says. “Most people like to keep their family members home, but the guilt should come when you have to go to work and you leave them by themselves. Research shows that when you put a loved one in assisted living, they live longer because of the care they receive.”
In acknowledging the importance of family involvement, Serenity Gardens strives to bring loved ones back together often by hosting events and activities throughout the year.
“We don’t take it lightly that people are spending Christmas here. It’s a family affair. That’s what keeps me going, the fact that these families can come and see that their loved ones are doing well, they’re cared for, they’re happy,” she says. “When they say thank you … that’s when you realize you’re doing the right thing.”
To learn more about Serenity Gardens, visit SerenityGardensLiving.com.
“When it was time to move my mother from her home, we searched the entire D.C. metropolitan area and found Serenity Gardens in Potomac. It has been my mother’s home for the past two years. My mother has Alzheimer’s-type dementia and requires care with most of her ADLs [activities of daily living]. The role of caregiver is critical to my mother’s life and our family life—though I am not personally and physically able to provide 24/7 care for my mother, I want the best possible care for her. My top priorities are that she is healthy, safe, happy, clean, well-fed and treated with kindness and compassion. Serenity Gardens has provided excellent care for my mother and exceeds my expectations every day.”
—Susie Baer, daughter of two-year resident Shirley Baer (pictured)
The Inglesis Family
- Loves that Serenity Gardens is more individualized care with the at-home feeling
- Feels like home vs. an institution