By J. Emmett Reed, FHCA Executive Director
Beginning yesterday, May 13, through May 19, nursing homes across Florida and the nation will be Celebrating the Journey in honor of National Nursing Home Week 2012. Facilities have activities planned that will honor the lives - and milestones - of the people they care for and the staff who serve them.
Celebrating the Journey reminds us that every life should be honored, every life’s story needs to be told and that every day we have the chance to begin writing a new chapter. Whether the day is filled with comedy or drama, nursing home residents and caregivers are co-authors and leading characters in each other’s life story.
All of us should strive to live life to the fullest, irrespective of our age or medical condition. In the long term care profession, there is no fixed formula to follow, just the quiet routines of daily caregiving, meals, activities, and, hopefully, visits from family and friends. They bring the joy that comes from the heart of a loved one.
Many of our Florida Health Care Association member nursing homes are embracing the Culture Change movement as a means to help residents live their lives to the fullest. Culture Change focuses on change from within. The purpose is to help improve residents’ quality of life with more choices and more involvement in the day-to-day planning of their activities. It is called “person-centered care” and is for all ages. Residents have more choices in meal selections and other activities of daily living. Additionally, the front line workers who provide the bulk of the care are being given greater autonomy with their assigned residents to encourage staffing consistencies and strong friendships with residents.
During this special week, we’re reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous sentiment that “life is a journey, not a destination.” Long term care professionals working in our state’s nursing homes have dedicated their careers to serving others. They understand that the experiences they share with residents and patients are truly a journey. Families and friends should take comfort in knowing that they are here for them every step of the way – when they are striving to maintain or build relationships amid memory loss or coming to terms with the challenges that come with growing older.
Rest assured that all of us working in long term care have the same goal in Celebrating the Journey, and that is for residents to feel satisfied at the end of each day that staff cared for and about them – not just as patients - but as people with stories to tell and new chapters yet to write.