This week the Detroit Free Press ran a three-part investigative series examining the state of nursing home care in Michigan. Part one and two in the series highlight the challenges of providing quality eldercare and the abysmal failure of Michigan’s lowest-performing providers.
Part three, “Nursing homes: A caring staff makes all the difference,” reported on Michigan’s highest quality providers and, no surprise to us, The Eden Alternative featured prominently in this article. Michigan is home to 34 Eden Alternative-registered homes, more than any other state. Freep reporters Robin Erb and Kristi Tanner report:
Senior advocates say the best nursing homes embrace concepts such as the Eden Alternative ( www.edenalt.org) — a nonprofit devoted to making homes for seniors less institutional by developing individualized programs that allow wide latitude in daily routine. If residents don’t like the activities for the day, they can create their own. Visitors? The more the better.
Residents can eat when they want, sleep when they want, decorate their rooms the way they want.
Erb and Tanner visited three of Michigan’s top-tier nuring homes: Marycrest Manor in Livonia, Romeo Nursing Center and Continuing Care and the Village of Redford, which practices The Eden Alternative and operates two Green House Project homes.
At Romeo, the reporters correctly noted that despite some cosmetic shortcomings, such as peeling paint, dated furniture and stained carpets, it is among Michigan’s highest rated, top-notched facilities. As any culture change advocate will argue, the quality of the building has nothing to do with the quality of care. Erb and Tanner write, the key is to invest in “skilled, caring staff members who put a premium on what residents want rather than the rigid, institutional routine of many nursing homes.”
These top-tier homes range from old to new, rural to urban. Though no one factor will guarantee perfect care, industry advocates and critics agree that the best nursing homes have some things in common: They hire and retain good staff, often with better-than-average pay. They tend to be smaller, nonprofit homes. And they invite residents and family to be part of daily decision-making.
They represent what advocacy groups say is a welcome trend among the top homes in favoring resident choice, within reason, over inflexible institutional routine.
We know this trend as “culture change,” which in The Eden Alternative and other models is a set of principles and practices designed to put elders at the center of decision making. In other words, provide patient-centered care focused on enabling growth and development rather than managing decline. As Karl Schillinger, director of life enrichment at the Village of Redford, told Freep:
“We’re talking about life here, not the end of life.”
Don’t miss the full article “Nursing homes: A caring staff makes all the difference” — it includes a fantastic gallery of 36 photos taken on location at the featured nursing homes.