Respect For Elders

Nursing homes are often seen as dreary, sterile, and lonely
environments, but a quiet revolution may be taking place inside the
industry. According to Beth Baker, writing for
Ms. Magazine, a ‘new generation’ of
nursing homes and long-term care facilities are changing ‘from
an institutional model to one reflecting values of community,
independence and empowerment for residents and staff alike.’

Part of the energy behind this shift in philosophy comes from
the Pioneer
Network
, an organization dedicated to transforming America’s
‘culture of aging.’ Charlene Boyd, president of Pioneer Network,
told Ms. Magazine that the organization’s philosophy is
based around ‘nurturing the human spirit.’ Both residents and aides
in the Pioneer Network are encouraged to make their own decisions
and set their own schedules, creating an environment that fosters
both independence and community.

So far, the Pioneer Network has yielded some encouraging
results. In an article adapted from the organization’s handbook,
Susan Misiorski writes for
Nursing Homes Magazine that long-term
care facilities operating with the Pioneer Network have reported
reduced uses of medication, fewer cases of depression, and
stronger bonds with family and friends. Misiorski details the
steps necessary to create a cultural shift and ‘an atmosphere
where the residents and staff are known as individuals.’ The
program offers financial incentives too, as nursing homes in the
Pioneer Network are able to devote less money to recruiting and
retaining caregivers, and more money to the patients
themselves.

‘Nevertheless,’ Baker writes, ‘these nursing homes remain few
and far between.’ Of the 17,000 nursing homes in the nation, the
Pioneer Network estimates that less than 200 have truly made the
transformation thus far. But advocates insist the organization is
making progress. Cofounder Rose Marie Fagan is hopeful; as she
suggested to Ms. Magazine, ‘maybe old age won?t be so
dreaded when we create a role for elders in our society — where
we?ll be valued for our wisdom and for what we?ve contributed.’

Go there>>
Home, Sweet Nursing Home

Go there, too>>

Pioneering Culture Change

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