As ChangingAging readers know I recently returned from a trip to Europe and the UK. One of the wonderful organizations I visited is Anchor, a leading provider of “care homes”, as they call them in England. Anchor is leading a transformation of eldercare in the UK and I’m excited they are looking at The Eden Alternative and The Green House Project for inspiration.
Today, the BBC published an “experts opinion” piece I wrote on this transformation. I outlined the problem:
An ageing society, unprecedented financial pressures and the fact that we just deserve better mean the standard care home model needs radical re-engineering.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed in October that the number of centenarians in the UK has increased fivefold in the last 30 years.
The seismic change in life expectancy is fantastic news.
But the typical care home model is still grounded in healthcare concepts developed well over 100 years ago by Florence Nightingale. And it needs a massive shift if it is to reflect older people’s changing needs.
Conventional models of care in the U.S. and UK make the carers the stars of the show and the center of decision making. What we’ve done in the Eden Alternative and The Green House Project is place the elders at the center of the show:
Our model, which we run at centres in the US, creates small communities for groups of older people and staff to focus on living full and vibrant lives.
It is a radical departure from traditional care homes. There are already more than 100 in the US but none yet in the UK.
It is based around households of seven to 10 older people, supported by specially trained highly versatile workers who provide a wide range of assistance including personal care, activities, meals and laundry.
In my opinion, simply doing a better job with the standard model of care is not going to get us where we need to go. We have to create environments that change the paradigm — places to live focused on growth and development, not on decline, disability and death.