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Investigating the culture change in nursing home care

by Shannon Lee

Long-term care used to be a difficult thing for families to discuss. But a new trend in nursing is opening the path to a culture change in nursing home care, one that could change the landscape in a very big way.

As the population ages and life expectancy increases, more seniors are finding themselves in need of long-term care--and many of them are in for a pleasant surprise. Long-term nursing care is experiencing a culture change that promises to transform the future for seniors.

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, are often the most common choice for long-term nursing care. Nursing homes are meant for those who need round-the-clock medical care. Custodial care, or help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and eating, is also a part of the daily routine.

New trends in long-term nursing care

Nursing home care has long been focused on the medical care of patients. However, new trends in nursing point to a fuller experience for both the senior and the caregivers. Here are three visionary places that are sparking a culture change in long-term care:

  1. The Pioneer Network. Formed in 1997, the Pioneer Network is dedicated to the idea that long-term care should be an opportunity to thrive, not simply decline. This culture-change movement is transforming provider-centered nursing care to a consumer-centered experience, thus offering more control, independence, and dignity to seniors who require long-term care. A large part of the Pioneer Network's plan of action is transforming institutional nursing homes into comfortable, real home settings.
  2. The Eden Alternative. The core concept of the Eden Alternative is simple: rather than see long-term care facilities as places for the old and frail, they should be seen as places where the elderly can thrive and age gracefully. Rather than sterile nursing homes, the Eden Alternative sees communities, neighborhoods, and homes as the best way to promote a healthy atmosphere while providing the physical, medical, and emotional support every individual requires.
  3. The Green House Project. Inspired by the Eden Alternative, the Green House Project relies on a triple concept: Warm, Smart, and Green. The facilities are warmly decorated and have a sense of community, but they are also built smart, with wireless paging systems, electronic lifting devices, and the like. Just as the name implies, the Green House Project stays green by making good use of sunlight, plants, and outdoor spaces for seniors to enjoy.

Culture change in nursing homes: today and the future

Seniors in nursing homes are not waiting to die--they just need a bit of help to live a purposeful, happy life. The culture change of nursing care reflects this shift in thinking, not only in the places offered for senior living, but in the very core of the nursing care system. Even the vocabulary is changing by focusing on the senior as a whole and vital person, rather than a number on a chart.

As the culture change in long-term care slowly takes hold, the lives of seniors are changing for the better. These are not the nursing homes your grandmother knew--and as the trend continues, more seniors may experience the philosophy of the Pioneer Network, the Eden Alternative, and the Green House Project as the rule, rather than the exception.