Emerald Crest Receives Eureka! Award from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

June 23, 2016


In spring, 2016, Emerald Crest by Augustana Care received a Eureka! Innovation Award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. The awards honor the novel approaches of startups, along with new products and business transformations. Emerald Crest received its award for a unique multi-sensory environment at our Burnsville location. The environment was designed for those with conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Learn more in the Journal’s news story about Augustana Care.

eureka-award.jpgThe unique features of the room reflect Emerald Crest by Augustana Care’s commitment to helping residents thrive, no matter what gaps they may be experiencing in their abilities.. Occupational Therapist Theresa Klein came to Emerald Crest at its inception to create a memory care program. She has been passionate about memory care since high school, when her grandfather began showing signs of Alzheimer’s and came to live with her family.

When Klein’s grandfather contracted Alzheimer’s, there was little understanding at the time of how to deal with the disease “I committed myself to improving care for those with dementia,” she adds. “I envisioned a program that allowed individuals to celebrate their abilities rather than focusing on their deficits.” The multisensory room is part of of Emerald Crest’s commitment to create an environment that maximizes residents’ abilities and successes.

An early version of a multisensory environment was called a “snoezelen room.” It was created in the late 1970s by two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul. Their goal was to promote relaxation and exploration for people with cognitive disabilities. This concept has since evolved and is starting to be used to stimulate the brain capacity of people with dementia.

“A multisensory environment helps spur healthy brain cells to connect and form new pathways,” says Klein. When she heard about multisensory rooms, she then decided it would be extremely helpful to residents and broached the subject with her team. The team joined Theresa’s efforts to make the project a reality. Those efforts are resulting in a better quality of life for Emerald Crest residents.

Multisensory rooms can be powerful tools that help form new pathways in the brain and promote healthy, positive results, including the following:

  • Increased alertness
  • Increased attention to participate in daily care and activities
  • Decreased falls
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased need for medications
  • Decreased wandering, agitation or repetitive speech

The multisensory room is making a significant impact on the lives of people dealing with dementia. One resident who heard “Amazing Grace” tapped out the rhythm to the song while watching the lights above her. The resident’s husband says his wife’s heightened alertness also boosted her appetite.

Another resident who had not spoken for at least a year talked to staff and family members after being in the environment for only 30 minutes. When she entered the room, her fingers were curled against her chest and her head was down. After experiencing all the room had to offer, the woman’s fingers relaxed and her eyes began following the lights dancing around her. She spoke very clearly when asked what she thought of the “show” she was seeing. “It’s beautiful,” she replied.

The judges who chose Emerald Crest’s multi-sensory room said, “There is such a need for breakthroughs with Alzheimer’s. Any moments of lucidity for patients is invaluable. This is a creative, noninvasive approach.” To learn more about the awards, please visit the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.


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We were exceptionally pleased with the staff and their care – beyond our expectations. We picked Emerald Crest because of the “family” atmosphere and home environment.  We speak very highly of Emerald Crest in the community and would refer someone with full confidence and no reservations.

— Kim, daughter of resident