What is the nursing home culture change?

Long-term care facilities have long been places where it was thought people went to die. Somber places that feel like a hospital, where no one really cares about you except that you receive your medications, and you never go home.

That is beginning to change. Many long term care facilities are changing into personal communities, not wards or wings. They are staffed by care givers who are there to help their residents as they live lives of meaning, value and joy. They have private spaces and family places and a chance to continue to live life with some measure of independence and responsibility.

These communities provide the best personal, health and medical services to their residents will need. They also ensure it feels like home. Many long term care facilities or communities have adopted the Eden program where there are street names, pets and a home like atmosphere.

Nursing homes were historically known to be synonymous with "rest homes." Not true anymore. While nursing homes do have a patient population that consider the facility their home, more recently nursing homes provide temporary nursing care to those needing additional care after surgery or long-term IV antibiotics. These more modern patients are driving the cultural changes seen at many facilities. Some in room changes are private bathrooms, Internet access, and meals plated for better quality  The typical nursing home resident is younger and preparing to go home. The residents don't stay in bed to get better, they are often found performing individualized exercises with one goal, become strong enough to go back home.


Many of us think of nursing homes as are dismal, institutional places. Sorrowfully, this stereotype has proved to be genuine. And in light of this reality, numerous people are working towards the complete and total redesign of nursing home operations. This movement is known as culture change, and it is a revolution in thinking about how care is provided to the individuals residing in nursing homes.

Spearheaded by the Pioneer Network, culture change involves some ideas that appear fairly simplistic. Rather than operating a nursing home based on a schedule of tasks, which may involve one employee running up and down the halls to bathe a resident or change sheets, nursing homes would schedule staff according to the individualized requirements of residents. This approach puts the patient's needs in the forefront, permitting for the highest possible quality of life. Working with a smaller group of patients, staff members would have greater one-on-one time, allowing them to be aware when a resident would like a bath, in contrast to simply giving a bath at a certain scheduled time.

Just as care becomes more flexible and individualized and less regimented, so too should the physical environment appear less like an institutional facility and more like a home. This may entail changes in layout and appearance. One noteworthy example of this approach is the Eden Alternative. Several hundred homes across the country have been "Eden-ized," implying they are jam-packed with plants, animals and children. So instead of surrounding the elderly with an environment that reminds them that they are approaching the end of life, they are surrounded by things which emphasize life and living. Preliminary studies of this method prove that residents and their families are happier.

As you might imagine, modifying the look and feel of nursing homes is not an inexpensive undertaking, and given that many people are already anxious about how they'll afford a nursing home now, there is no way to know how long it will take to see these ideas implemented.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.