Care Partners: Fighting the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom

With this blog, I’m interested in exploring senior focused businesses. Let’s face it, it may be just a bit too broad. My business is senior care.

A few weeks ago, I took a three-day class to become a certified to teach the Eden at Home curriculum. Going into the training, I was, more than anything, curious to learn about the Eden Alternative and The Green House Project. While I suggest learning more about these affiliated organization, they are noted for being leaders in the “culture change” movement, which basically means that they have been very influential in making nursing homes more humane.

The starting point for the Eden Alternative came when Dr. Bill Thomas was rounding at a local nursing, when he met a patient who poignantly said to him: “I’m so lonely.” He realized one major problem is that the culture of the institution forced care decisions for the benefit of the company, management of staff, and regulatory compliance. Juggling all these items is actually quite difficult and requires help from advanced computer programs. In the process, it is easy to lose track of the person.

I found the training fascinating from a business management perspective. Looking at the Web sites of The Green House Project and the Eden Alternative, a very different vision of the nursing home, assisted living, and senior care in general is presented. It requires different architecture. It requires different staffing models. It requires more involvement of the care recipient and the caregiving family. It’s different. But is it profitable? Can the business communicate it in its positioning and strategy?

In the world of adult day services, I think we tend to be person centered, if for no other reason than that we see our participant’s families on a regular basis, and in many cases, on a daily basis. Yet, there is something compelling in becoming more intentional about reimagining the relationship between the participant (care recipient), the family, the center, and other service providers as a care partnership. The three plagues in the title are real for both the care recipient and the care giver.

Should we adopt many of the ideas presented in the Eden at Home curriculum? There is much that is interesting and worthy of consideration. Perhaps we need to adapt the principles or use them to spark a conversation about what are culture needs to be, how we need to train our associates, and how we should improve our services, operations, and strategies.

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