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Discovering new ways of caring for seniors in long-term care

I am in a suburb of Stuttgart, Germany; it is early afternoon when I arrive in front of a rectangular, plain looking, 5-storey building. I am surprised. Is this the home of that is known for its innovative approach to long-term care? I go inside, the first level is clearly a workspace for staff, meeting rooms, therapeutic rooms, offices, functional, simple décor, bright wall colors, and easy to navigate.

I was meeting the social worker and we went into a resident area. Through the front door into a dining/living space. Two employees were dusting ornaments while chatting with residents who were sitting in the lounge. It felt like a family home, calm, relaxed.

Years ago, this organization recognized the need for change and rented a single-family house in the village. The home was adapted to the needs of six long-term care residents who moved in and received care and services in the home. The organization wanted to find out whether it would be possible for residents with complex care needs and dementia to safely live in an actual home.

The little prototype home was the starting point that led to the new building that now offers care and services and a home to about 100 residents.

There are two households on each level. Each household is largely independent from the overall organization. Residents determine the daily rhythm, the menu, time of housekeeping services, décor, furnishings there are many opportunities to participate in or observing daily activities such as food preparation, setting the table, and cleaning up. Everything happens in the kitchen and dining areas and there is always someone there to talk to. Life is the activity.

I learned that there is a long history, extensive knowledge and an unwavering commitment behind this model. The organization prides itself in pioneering care and service models that never looses sight of the human being at the centre of all their efforts and the conviction that the aging person can live in self determination.
I am introduced to the daughter of one of the residents. “You have to do this” she says, my mom is so content here. This is so much better.

Next: Developing OUR vision for the new German-Canadian Care Home

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