Renee Kinder

Fresh cut flowers appear on my front steps and there is no question in my mind as to whom they are from.

My mother-in-law, otherwise known as Nana, a superior example for the provision of person-centered care.

Person-centered care, as defined in the updated State Operations Manual Appendix PP, means to focus on the resident as the locus of control and support the resident in making their own choices and having control over their daily lives.

I have not even finished my first cup of coffee, I am a touch grouchy from our family’s morning routine and yet she has already completed her grocery shopping while managing to find the perfect bouquet to brighten my day.

As we all prepare for the upcoming Phase 2 Requirements of Participation with an increased focus on comprehensive person-centered care planning, we could all learn a few things from my in-laws.

What I have learned from them is that we often can realize preferences and wishes through observation and listening.

What I mean to say is that we do not need an exclusive list of probing questions or excessive interviews to learn about an individual resident’s wishes.

My father-in-law, for example, knows that I like my coffee strong, blazing hot and black, whereas my dear husband to this day will still ask if I want flavored creamer. Paw Paw knows this from watching me over the years and from us drinking coffee together.

When I travel and arrive home late, my mother-in-law will have the entire house set up exactly, and to be honest more precisely, as I would in preparation for the next day. Five dining room chairs each holding a backpack, covered by five pairs of khakis, five shirts and 10 socks. She will even have the kitchen table set with five bowls and five spoons in preparation for morning cereal.

I dare you to try and find a stitch of dirty laundry, an unclean dish, or so much as a molecule of a crumb on the floor after they have cared for our children at home. They do everything in their power to make sure I don’t have to come home and “worry” about the house.

Family meals with Nana and Paw Paw carry a similar theme: multiple versions of the same dish based on individual family preferences, special cups and utensils for the children, insistence on others sitting and eating first while they circle tables making sure everyone has exactly what they need.

Exhausting, yes. They set a very high bar for caregiving.

Last week, my husband and I arrived home after midnight, following the American Healthcare conference. Nana opened the door with a smile, Paw Paw let us know when he last walked the dogs and then my mother-in-law said, “I am going to go to sleep for three days.”

Yeah, right.

The next day she was hosting extended family for a meal, pot roast with carrots and potatoes and all the fixings.

Just the way we all like it.

Because she would not have it any other way.

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT currently serves as Director of Clinical Education for Encore! Rehabilitation  and acts as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).