Guest Columns

Making the leap to person-directed care

Share this content:
Angie McAllister, Signature HealthCARE
Angie McAllister, Signature HealthCARE

How do we shape a new reality for long-term care? With the aging sector in general under attack and ageism on the rise in today's society we have a larger obligation than ever to reach for something more. Transformation in its literal definition means to go beyond.  

The question then becomes how do we go beyond what we see?

Transformation is a peculiar thing for most people. It can cause us to cringe inwardly when it knocks on our door or to spread our wings as a butterfly just taking to the skies for the first time! Let's face it, we all react differently to change. However with so much at stake in our elder's lives, staffing shortages and multitudes of other problems, how can the industry afford not to change? As a matter of fact, it is time for disruptive innovation in the healthcare sector.

Over the past five years, I have helped over 40 nursing homes walk through the transformation process to person-directed care. Even with a defined road map for change, transformation doesn't come easily. However once through the gates, they all began to blossom with new hopes and possibilities for the future. You can do it too, if you are determined to.

Initializing the change process in a sector that is historically rich with institutional traditions requires thought, focus, positivity in the face of defeat, and a healthy dose of inspiration. How then do we really transform a nursing home.

Let's walk through a few key areas below:

  1. Temperature checks are important. When planting the seeds of change we must first see if the organizational culture is warm or cool. It's important to realize that seeds do not grow in cold weather! My grandmother taught me that timing is everything! We have to know when it's the right season to plant.
  2. Set the vision. Everyone needs a vision to work for. In the transformation process, setting a vision for the future is important! We have to be the visionaries that can see a world that is not tangible for everyone yet. Because the aging sector has such deep rooted traditions, it can be incredibly difficult for people to see the vision for the future. Our job is to make it so real, they can almost reach out and touch it.
  3. Promote opportunities for growth. Please understand that we can have the best visions and plant all the right seeds but without opportunities for growth we cannot transform. To enhance growth builds trust in the organization. It nurtures ideas, innovation and thoughts that the institution cannot. Everyone, no matter what job title we have been crowned with, deserves to grow and learn on a daily basis.
  4. Collaboration leads to success. Collaboration brings with it all the things that transform an organization. It promotes relationship building, which builds trust and helps us to provide better care for our Elders.  Collaboration empowers and encourages new thought leaders to arise and be heard. Take note that naturally nursing homes do not collaborate well, with intended departmental silos and other factors, this is a hard task to take root. However when it happens, it is a dream!
  5. Provide support and resources. All of the things above hinge on the support and resources the organization gives. For any nursing home to make the leap to true person-directed care there must be a level of support and resources that helps them. Transformation is not an overnight jump, it requires daily determination to ensure success. Support has to come in the form of accountability to the vision, resources to ensure the leap can be made, and a listening ear when things aren't going smoothly.

The beauty of transformation in a nursing home particularly is the lives it affects. The joy that was once lost to the institution blooms again because of new personal freedoms for those living and working there. In a world so bogged down with schedules and timelines, the spontaneity of life begins to take shape and purpose starts to grow everywhere!

While transformation is never easy, be encouraged to make the leap. Start the journey and make a personal commitment to bring change to healthcare. We need it now more than ever.

Angie McAllister is the Director of Cultural Transformation-Hometown and a Certified Eden Alternative Educator & Mentor with Signature HealthCARE.

Next Article in Guest columns

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.