Medical Support Focuses on the Person, Not the Illness
Moving to an older adult community means a change in lifestyle, but the quality of health care is also a major consideration. United’s approach is different.
“We focus on the resident as a person,” said Nikki Bonsall, director of health and wellness at United. “We follow a social model of care, which means the resident is the expert in their wellness. We focus on their strengths not their medical conditions, and the resident tells us how they want to live. Our philosophy focuses on enjoying an active, creative life supported by a highly educated staff that are trained to see the resident as a unique individual.”
Nikki, who joined United in May, is one of four registered nurses on staff at United. “Registered nurses can offer a higher level of care, plus, having us on staff allows us to get to know the residents and their particular needs.” Nikki worked in emergency departments prior to coming to United. “There is a lot of pressure in emergency situations, so it’s nice to be able to switch gears and work more in depth with residents – get to know them as people, their histories, likes and dislikes. I’ve always seen people as individuals. Everybody has a story. While medical is important, it’s the relationship that is a priority.”
The nursing profession is primarily concerned with a person’s medical conditions that need to be fixed or changed, but Nikki has always believed that residents know how they want to live and that the medical team can support them by providing choice and control over their lives. It’s all about helping the resident live well rather than what is most efficient for staff.
“We don’t impose restrictions on the amount of time we spend with residents. We allow time to talk with them and get to know them. We focus on the person, not the illness. I was drawn to United because of this philosophy. I knew right away this was going to be a good fit for me.”
That approach can be a pleasant surprise for nursing staff who come to United from another community. Nurses at United always refer to the person by name. As well, nurses wear business casual attire, not scrubs or medical uniforms. Medications are given to residents in their suites. It’s all about dignity and respect.
When a person moves into a United community, a comprehensive assessment is conducted that involves all aspects of wellness. The team gets to know the resident and his or her interests and strengths. It is a community approach that provides opportunities for residents to connect, while respecting their individuality and preferences.
Each week the wellness team (nursing, food services, housekeeping, programming, fitness, United Minds team members and artists) meets to share their knowledge about individual resident’s concerns, capabilities and needs and develop approaches that can help residents improve their quality of life. The team takes a collaborative approach to help residents live life as fully and comfortably as possible, in accordance with their choices and values, regardless of any health issues they may have. The members of the wellness team are different than you would see in a traditional medical model, which is a reflection of the relationship that all staff have with the residents at United. Often, housekeeping or serving staff will see changes in their day-to-day interactions with residents, which can help the medical team with their care plans.
Residents are empowered to make their own decisions about what is right for them, such as when they eat, what programs they attend, and the relationships they build. The benefit to this approach is that it supports residents in maintaining their independence in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.
“Whatever condition you have, you’re still a person. Your condition shouldn’t define who you are. It’s our job to find out what you need to live a full, active life and help meet those needs.”
Are you interested in seeing what United is all about? We’re having an open house at our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities on Oct. 19. Click here for details.
Photos and 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.