I’m a part of a group that is a spinoff of our LTC state advocacy agency. We call ourselves members of the “Leadership Academy“. Like other similar groups we participate in nursing home / assisted living home conferences, culture change workshops, elder care community site visits and read a lot about leading change within our own organizations.
At a recent class we discussed Culture Change and person centered care compared to the older, traditional model of care at nursing facilities. Culture change is not a new movement and we talk about it ALOT in this blog. But at this class the presenter made a very profound impact during a labeling exercise.
She had two members sit in chairs at the front of the class while she put 8×11 brightly colored placards around their neck. The volunteers were representing residents and these labels told who they were and how they’re perceived. For one class member volunteer she received labels like: “independent”, “likes to take baths”, “likes the color blue”, “was a Red Cross volunteer”, “prefers no onions”, “someone’s Grandmother” and “shy”. The other class member received labels like: “difficult”, “Bathing risk”, “inflexible”, “incontinent”, “wanderer”, “unfriendly”, and “lady in 2B”.
Fairly obvious to see the point of this exercise. When we focus on the negative or challenging parts of someone’s personality over their positives – or what makes them who they are- their likes / dislikes – we approach these individuals as problems as opposed to people.
Those in the culture change world agree it’s easy to change outward appearances – new paint, new spa tub, new menu. The philosophy is a great one. Concerns arise about the staff — are they embracing the culture – because without it – there is no change in the culture of care. What good are person centered buildings and schedules if the staff is not adopting the same philosophy?