Senior Care Industry Pushes for Improved Quality of Life
The conversation about quality of life is changing and that may mean a major culture shift. A recent webinar, hosted by the Alberta Association of Gerontology, called for a culture shift in senior living communities that will lead to an improved quality of life for residents.
According to Dr. Matthias Hoben of York University in Toronto, to undergo effective culture change, the focus of a community needs to move beyond the mechanics of health care. “Is the resident sad or happy, or are they clean and dressed? That simple shift in perspective represents a significant change in culture. Culture change should centre on the voice of the resident,” said Dr. Hoben. He suggested including direct care employees in monitoring resident quality of life and working with the care aides, families and residents to find practical solutions for improvement, such as simply taking into account the little things that make a person happy.
United Active Living’s programming is leading the way in cultural transformation required to transform the experience of living in an older adult community. Partnering with a variety of community organizations to offer engaging speakers, excursions and other cultural pursuits. United is focused on the well-being of the residents with an approach that centres on residents living life on their terms.
United Garrison Green resident Jim Dolph participated in the webinar and pointed out that quality of life is different for everyone. “Like most people, I have often said, ‘I wish I had more time’ and ‘I’ll do that when I get more time’. Now I find that time is something I have an abundance of, and so to me, quality of life is being able to fill that time in ways that continue to provide purpose and direction.”
According to Dr. Tetyana Shippee, Associate Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management with the University of Minnesota, most research has focused on clinical measures of quality. “We should include the experiences of residents, the meals and programs and other person-centred measures. Quality of life is multi-dimensional, and it is quality of life that is of most interest to residents and families.”
On the employee side of care, Dr. Sienna Caspar, Associate Professor with the University of Lethbridge, emphasized the need to educate employees and support them with strategies to put changes into practice. “Leaders who demonstrate respect for staff through recognition and responsiveness is important. This translates into trust of management and sense of family, and improved quality of work life. And in turn, this improves the quality of care. There is increased socialization between staff and residents.”
A recent United Active Living resident survey reflected high levels of satisfaction when residents were questioned about “overall staff performance” and whether “staff treat me with respect”.
All panel experts noted a change in the way they measure effectiveness should include resident perspectives. Solutions need to come from those who do the work every day. Not necessarily from the top down, but from the bottom up. Experts emphasized the need to look through a variety of lenses including the perspective of residents, employees and families.
Feedback and two-way communication is foundational to the culture of any organization and United Active Living’s approach is one of constant conversation. Through regular surveys, town hall meetings and resident-led councils that meet regularly to discuss and share ideas, United is able to dial into the changing needs and desires of residents to tailor program and service offerings.
“At United, we have taken the person-centred approach a step further to embrace a relationship-centred approach,” said Kera Redlack, Director of Health and Wellness, who also tuned into the webinar. “Our care team discusses health care with the residents, but we also value what the residents hope to achieve by living here. Our culture is not about telling residents what they have to do in a day. Instead, we listen to the residents and they tell us what they want to do and what’s important to them.”
“It’s very gratifying to see this going on here,” said Jim. “I don’t want a condescending attitude, or to be treated as a failure. Many of these qualities of life are shared and pursued by other residents at Garrison Green. There is a broad spectrum of choice; something for every level of ability.”
Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.
Speak with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If 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 future visit. We are happy to help!