Picture this: your day begins by being woken out of a dead sleep at 7:00 a.m. to take your medications; meals are promptly served at 8:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.; bathing schedules are set with little to no variation; lights out by 9:00 p.m. Scenario two: you wake up and go to bed when you want, meander to breakfast, lunch and dinner when you please and are tended to by the same caregivers on a day to day basis. If given the opportunity, which would you choose?
Long-term care facilities are moving away from the traditional, institutionalized care toward a more resident-centered model that focuses on preserving each resident’s dignity and individuality. Here are some ways to spot a facility that engages in resident-centered care:
Environment. Facility is structured to look more like a home than an institution. Smaller units, sometimes called “neighborhoods”, allow residents a private room with a centralized area for living and dining that serves the neighborhood instead of the facility as a whole. Consistent assignments are in place where staff take care of the same residents on a day to day basis and get to know individual wants/needs on a more personal level.
Choice. Each resident is able to structure their day how they want and are involved in the creation and execution of their care plan. Residents are encouraged to decorate their room with personal items and furniture. Activities are offered that are suited to personal preference and include community engagement with people outside of the facility such as children or pets.
Inclusive language. Staff uses language that preserves the dignity of residents. Instead of saying, “a diabetic”, they would say “a person who has diabetes” out of respect – the resident is not defined by their disease. Look for facilities that follow the general rule of using person-centered language that does not demean or assume.
Commitment to culture change profoundly affects both residents and staff in a positive way. The power of choice allowing residents to maintain their individuality and sense of autonomy has been shown to improve overall mental and physical health by preventing boredom and loneliness/helplessness. Staff also benefit from culture change by fostering personal relationships with residents which increases employee satisfaction and reduces turnover rates. Keeping these ideals in mind while searching for the best long-term care facility for your loved one could help improve their quality of life and allow them to thrive for years to come.