How many nursing home administrators do you think have ever been a resident in a nursing home? I would guess not many. Which raises the question, how do you know how to serve someone if you’ve never been served yourself?
A nursing home administrator in an Eden Alternative home in Mitchell, S.D., recently tried to find out by admitting herself to her facility playing the role of a woman who’s right side was paralyzed by a stroke:
Her staff cared for her as they would a patient. “They took me to the restroom and had me wash up, brush my teeth. Then they helped me do my makeup and get dressed — all using my left hand — and they took me out to have breakfast.”
Smith said it was awkward to depend on her employees for feeding and other personal needs, but their positive attitudes reduced any initial misgivings she had.
“It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and I think that’s just because they are just really professional staff,” she said.
And what did she learn from the experience?
“I consider myself to be a physically strong person,” she said, “but there were times when I found it hard to move my wheelchair over the flooring strips that separate residential rooms from the hallways.”
Those will be lowered in the future, along with the height of bulletin boards and mirrors to better accommodate wheelchair-bound residents.
Smith would also like to see improvements in some bathrooms, which in some cases are small, colorless, dimly-lit and poorly ventilated rooms that make a patient’s wait of a few minutes seem much longer.
“And maybe even some artwork, music, or a book to read,” she said.
Hats off to Ross Dolan of the Daily Republic for writing a terrific article highlighting culture change. Click here to read the full story.
ChangingAging’s good friend Steve Gurney, founder of the Guide to Retirement Living Source Book, launched a blog based on his experiences admitting himself as a resident to various retirement and assisted living facilities in order to better understand the experience. We highly recommend visiting his Everyone is Aging Blog.