"What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Shades of Shakespeare's intent still ring true.About 10 to 15 years ago, the movement to change nursing home names really began to pick up steam. It was decidedly not as fashionable to be a "nursing home" so we started seeing a lot more (fill in the proper name ______) "health centers," "rehabilitation centers," "villages" or just plain "homes."
To be fair, some did alter or expand services like rehabilitation to warrant a name change. But obviously not enough.
Why else would the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging feel compelled to create a special unit to promote "culture change"? As its new leader, Doug Pace knows he has his hands full.
First of all, there is no hard and fast way to define "culture change," let alone an objective way to measure it.
There is no pledge to sign, no Web site to post or compare scores. Not even a way to empirically gauge conversion rates.
But at least Pace has company.
Culture change — which basically means giving more freedom of choice to residents, and more authority to less experienced workers — is the hallmark of the Pioneer Network. It's a fledgling movement that started early and gained steam with the likes of Dr. Bill Thomas, adding allies wherever it could find them.
It's a necessary movement, though it is too bad it has to be formalized. Residents and their families will not put up with outdated care models.
It will take moxy to do what feels right — and not just correct, according to regulations. To get more individualized attention to residents, dollars might need to flow away from middle management and more toward aides and non-registered nurses. At least, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services say there is nothing inherently wrong or incompatible rules-wise about pursuing culture change.
A name change doesn't take much courage. Stepping off the pier in the name of culture change does.
What it's going to come down to is top-to-bottom buy-in. Who will have the gumption to pursue these changes? And who will achieve them?
Cultures don't change overnight, and this one won't, either. Patient, long-term resolve, including investment in staff training, will be the way out and up.
Taking a half-hearted stab at this could get you accused of treating it like a fad, or worse: poor management.
James M. Berklan
Editor, McKnight's Long-Term Care News