5Q :: ‘Nursing homes shouldn’t feel like mini-hospitals’If Dr. Jim Collins has his way, nursing homes won’t just be a place for the elderly to live. If approached correctly, our older family members will have a place to thrive.
If one gerontologist has his way, nursing homes won’t be the unwelcoming mini-hospitals of yesteryear. In his new book “The Person-Centered Way,” Dr. Jim Collins has designed a “roadmap for turning dull, average institutions into lively social environments.”
Intrigued, we e-mailed the Ohio professional to find out a little more:
Budgeteer: In a nutshell, what is “The Person-Centered Way: Revolutionizing Quality of Life in Long Term Care” all about?
Collins: “The Person-Centered Way: Revolutionizing Quality of Life in Long-Term Care” is all about adopting person-centered or resident-centered care in nursing homes and other health care facilities. The book is based on the philosophy that the elderly person comes first and everything else — such as med passes, scheduled treatments, employee schedules and other tasks — are secondary in importance. For too long, we have been task-oriented instead of person-oriented and this is just no way to provide quality of care or quality of life. It is about de-institutionalizing long-term care and creating a place where elders can call home.
Who did you write this book for? Is it for professionals in the field, or people who have family members in sterile, unwelcoming “old folks’ homes”?
I wrote this book for three different groups of people: health care professionals who work in long-term care facilities and are hungry for a better approach to long-term living; for baby-boomers, of whom 65 percent will require skilled nursing care, either short- or long-term; and for family members who have a loved one in a nursing home. It acts as a guide concerning how care and life should be for their loved ones.
Speaking of unwelcoming nursing homes, why do you think they are that way? What was the reasoning behind making them just an extension of the hospital experience?
Nursing homes have been designed to look and feel like mini-hospitals since the 1960s. They have become overly sterile, institutional and inflexible. This is no way to live today and certainly not in the future. We did the best we could back in the day, but now we have a new philosophy, road map and model for delivering phenomenal quality of care and quality of life — the person-centered way!
Despite all the different hats you wear in your life, you still manage to be the primary caregiver for your 85-year-old mother — what are the unforeseen rewards for doing this? If you have children, do they benefit from having access to an intergenerational family?
Being an Irish-Italian Catholic, as well as the only son in the family, I took it upon myself to care for my aging mother for the rest of her life. She just had a total knee replacement — her second — and is doing very well under my care. I cannot see her in a long-term care facility yet; she is too independent and vibrant. She would not do well in an institution. I would not be happy either.
I have three daughters, and the value of grandma is priceless. Intergenerational differences and similarities are a joy to observe on a daily basis. My 2-year-old baby girl, Karina Bella, greets her every morning with a “Good morning, Gwandma! I waked up!” Who would not find pure joy in this?
Finally, on a lighter note, what can you tell us about Poland, Ohio? Is it true William McKinley has ties to the city?
Ah, Poland, Ohio — my hometown. I love this small suburb of Youngstown for its intimate charm and old-fashioned feel. Neighbors know and like each other. People walk their dogs and stroll their babies up and down the streets from dawn to dusk and after.
It is true that William McKinley was born two minutes from Poland, in Niles, Ohio. He then moved here with his family and went to school at Poland Seminary. It is a minor and little-known claim to fame for Poland.
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Find out more about “The Person-Centered Way” at www.collinslearning.com.