Education, Research and Challenging Traditional Thinking
Cognitive Challenges No Barrier at United
United is known for being a thought leader in challenging the norms of what it means to age. They re-imagined the standard approach to supportive living by creating an inclusive community for older adults. Being inclusive means that United does not segregate or limit residents to a particular unit or wing based on the person’s physical or cognitive challenges. Rather, all residents are included in all aspects of the community.
Dr. Al Power, a geriatrician and author who has argued against locked wings for many years, writes in a recent blog article: “While physical safety is always an important consideration, “security” comprises much more than physical safety—it also means emotional and psychological security, which includes such attributes as familiarity, trust, respect, dignity, privacy, and balance. The problem is that many things we do to increase physical safety help us to feel better, but actually decrease the sense of security felt by the person.”
Locked wings may be the traditional approach, but they don’t work for residents. In order to make an inclusive community successful it takes research, education, and an operational shift.
A Workplace Culture Focused on Quality
As part of her Masters in Nursing program, Nicole Kendall, director of health and wellness conducted a review of current research literature and found common themes that support United’s inclusive community model. “I found that a workplace culture that is less focused on tasks and more concerned with spending quality time with residents improves communication throughout the organization and has a positive impact on wellness for residents. This requires leadership support that fully endorses and encourages a different approach to staff education and involvement with residents. The research also shows that the involvement by someone with dementia in everyday activities improves their quality of life and gives them a sense of independence in making their own decisions. I think it’s safe to say that we identified these themes to better understand what shapes the delivery of person-centred care in dementia and the areas that we should concentrate on in order to ensure we are providing this care at the highest level possible.”
Nicole was able to share her Master’s work with other health care professionals at the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association’s 20th biennial conference. “It is important to share United’s philosophy and provide real-life examples of how our inclusive model positively impacts the lives of people living with dementia, as well as enriches our entire community,” said Nicole. “By doing this we are helping to break down the stereotypes and stigma associated with dementia, and we are challenging health care professionals to think differently about the accepted norms and traditional ways of caring for people living with dementia.”
United is committed to incorporating leading edge research into their operating model,
contributing to research that will improve the well-being of older adults, and sharing their
knowledge in order to advocate for equal treatment of everyone, regardless of their medical
Photos by Sherana Productions and United. Video by Sherana Productions
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.