For the past 10 years, the German-Canadian Care Home leadership team has been learning about and experiencing new ways of caring for seniors residing in a long-term care homes. The possibility of a new building was a call to action, an opportunity to design an environment that works for the people living and working in it. We asked ourselves, what does this look like?
Today, we know more because we have seen better care models. We created a vision consisting of a small-house design, a decentralized operational model and a resident-directed care model. While the planning and development aspect of the physical building is weaving its way through the various approval stages, we have moved forward with a new care and service model.
Living in an institution can be detrimental to the human spirit. We began searching for opportunities to eliminate institutional barriers to change. We examined our practices and brainstormed solutions. Our staff have been our biggest allies as we took initial steps to make a lasting change.
Our actions are systematic, clearly articulated annually, monitored regularly, reviewed quarterly, and supported by key indicators. Staff teams are responsible for the work, for improving the quality in a specific service area. The amount of work must be manageable and is broken down into small steps. We don’t want this work to be overwhelming but rather be inspiring. We celebrate the small successes; they are motivational stepping stones.
Are things getting better? This is the important question the teams ask themselves during their regular reviews and regular satisfaction surveys. There is a focus on taking action, finding opportunities, identifying obstacles, generating solutions and trying something new.
The existing buildings, the physical layout of resident rooms and service areas pose limitations that we cannot overcome. We look forward to the new building with a design and features that will fully support our vision. At the heart are the people, their need for a comfortable home, for a meaningful workplace, a supportive community, and a connection.
In the future, more seniors will require care, more families will need to assume the informal caregiver role, and there will be increased competition for staff. I believe that improving long-term care will no longer be a-nice-to-have but a necessity.