“I am not a speaker.” The woman spoke these words in a quiet, shaky voice. I just laughed; she had said the same words many times throughout the past year. No — maybe not a speaker, but a “mentor who speaks.” With these words, I continued to lay out my latest plan for her. I could tell by the look in her eyes and her quick smile that she would again be a “mentor who speaks.” Donna Morton, administrator from White Hall Nursing and Rehabilitation, has been a mentor for the culture change movement for many years. These last two years she has been a wonderful resource for the Culture Change Project. Her home has been changing constantly to fit the residents’ needs. The home has a buffet line dining room and a dining room for menu choices. The home has a chef who cooks to order in the buffet dining room.
Many homes are beginning to bring these dining changes into long-term care. (We have decided to use the term “living.”) Long-term living has listened to residents about choice in dining. Choice in schedules, choice in routines and lifestyles are gradually coming to the industry. Training and education resources for staff, family and residents are increasing with better funding for resident-centered projects.
This “change” or “shift” cannot happen without people who are willing to “mentor-speak.” There are many people in Arkansas who are mentors for change. Donna Morton talks with people who call or come to her home. (She says one-to-one conversations are not speaking.) Recently, she participated in a conference call with Phil Yoder from Hillcrest Home in Harrison. Phil was in the first year of our project, and now is a mentor. One thing about mentors — they never stop learning or trying new projects.
Denise McClain is one of our mentors for the Arkansas change project. She has a wealth of knowledge, part of which she gained working for the Green House Projects in Arkansas. Denise teaches culinary skills to universal workers (staff members who are trained in all areas of long-term living). Paula Deen would be jealous of the macaroni and cheese dishes at these homes. Denise is always helping others with projects for resident-centered care. Her homes have week-long training on change. I was privileged to be able to participate in this training. Talk about education for staff! What a mindset change. Not the traditional, in-service on payday routine.
Kim Goins, the administrator at The Gardens at Osage Terrace in Bentonville, was in the first year of our project. The Gardens (don’t you just love that name) is an assisted living home. Kim has knowledge in many areas of education and innovation. She mentors for our new project. Kim, like Donna, Phil and Denise, never stops moving toward better resident-centered care. Remember, long-term living often begins in an assisted living home or a community housing project.
I could go on and on about the people who are making changes in Arkansas. Regina Jones at Greenbrier, who had a conference call on medication and routine changes. Jonas Schaffer, who is the technology wizard at Greenhurst, loves gadgets. Teri Hughes, with “art is ageless” projects at Courtyard Gardens (there’s that “garden” word again), knows that creating never grows old. Arkansas Health Center, what I like to call our home, has a team of mentors. I hope to have all these mentors — who speak, work and live change — featured in our blog at some point.
But the big project in Arkansas is not about changes in dining, changes in the survey process or about changing names. The big project is called mentorship. Leaders, educators and just plain people who are willing to talk, explain or just show support for resident-centered care.
Change in Arkansas with the assistance of good mentors will be like a river — a river made up of many different streams. Everyone can be a mentor for person-centered care. Mentors can be from all areas of life, all types of homes and have all types of experience. You can be in the big project. Just remember: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby