Fireside Chat: CC DeGraff and Leandra Sims of The Kensington

by Tombot Robotics





Hello, I'm Tom Stevens. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with CC DeGraff and Leandra Sims of Kensington Assisted Living in a fireside chat. Fireside chats are interviews with experts from the fields of health, technology and pets. 

CC is the Executive Director and Leandra is Director of Memory Care at the Kensington Assisted Living and Memory Care center in Sierra Madre. Ms. DeGraff received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California Irvine and has a certificate in residential care for the elderly. Ms. Sims has a BFA in theater and music from Chapman University.

Here are some of the highlights of our discussion.

What is Assisted Living? How Does Kensington Differ from a Skilled Nursing Facility?

CC: Assisted living offers a more social setting for seniors that want enrichment and engagement. It's less institutional and more home-like. The assisted living communities are licensed by the department of social services rather than the department of health. 

Our community is truly special. Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. Every single team member that works here really exemplifies that we hire, train and employ only the best at Kensington. And we're very proud of that.

What Type of Care Does Kensington Offer?

CC: We offer a variety of care here at Kensington.Our residents can move in and receive minimal care and assistance, and as they age, they add whatever care they may need. 

We care for residents that have Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and have residents that may have some physical needs. We do cater to a wide variety of residents and their care needs. We also employ nurses here 24 hours a day, who help us meet the clinical needs of our residents.

We are very fortunate because we have a partner that practices physical therapy here on site, and it’s called Heritage Health Pro. They have occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists that help us help the residents as well. Together with the nurses and our physical therapy partners, we're able to accommodate all sorts of conditions and help with any resident rehabilitation.

What are the Needs for Someone Going through Memory Loss? What is your Two-Tiered Memory Care?

Leandra: People living with dementia are exactly that: they're living with dementia. They're not demented, and they're not patients. They're just people living with a disease like anybody else. 

It's a hard thing to cope with for our families and our residents, and it requires a lot of love and support. I think that's what Kensington does best in their memory care. We don't decipher between which types of dementia we'll take. We are aware, and we can take care of everybody. 

I think having two neighborhoods [one for early-stage dementia and another for later-stage] makes the biggest difference to help create a friendly and familiar - but most importantly - forgiving environment. When you are in early to middle dementia, your skills are so different than they are when you're in late dementia. 

I think being able to separate allows them to socialize so well. When their needs become greater, which we would call “expressive communication” here at Kensington, it's okay. When you're in that other neighborhood, it's more forgiving and accepting.

How Might Jennie be Useful in Situations Where a Live in Animals May Not be Practical?

Leandra: I love how when you shared Jennie with the residents that understood it wasn't a real dog, they didn't say, “Oh, you know, this isn’t real.” I loved how fascinated residents were with Jennie, even if they knew she wasn't a real dog. 

With every other animatronic dog we've worked with, they were very aware of it being fake and did not want to interact. This was the first time I'd ever seen something like that, and it was brilliant. 

On behalf of the entire Tombot team, I would like to thank CC DeGraff and Leandra Sims for their work at the beautiful Kensington home, and for sharing their insights. For more information on how you can help us bring Tombot puppies to people desperately in need, please visit our website

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I'm Tom Stevens,

Be well