Reflecting on Person-Centered Care with Call the Midwife

The 21st Century’s British Invasion seems to be that of highly engaging BBC television series. Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes have a rabid fan following. Call the Midwife, a series based on the memoirs of a nurse working in London’s East End in the 1950s, is all sorts of charming as well. In addition to being entertaining, the Call the Midwife holiday special offers a great lesson in person-centered care of elders, especially those living with dementia.

In this episode, the nurses encounter Mrs. Jenkins, an elderly and confused vagrant woman. Though Mrs. Jenkins is initially resistant of their offers of help, even reacting violently to their efforts to take her pulse, the nurses take the time to find the right way to reach her. Nurse Jenny makes an extra effort to get to know the source of Mrs. Jenkins’ confusion and sadness and finds a way to alleviate some of it. By the end of the episode, we see a very different Mrs. Jenkins.

Mrs. Jenkins’ transformation reminds me of the many stories we’ve heard of improvements in residents when staff use person-centered principles and creative problem solving to explore their needs and how to fulfill them.

This episode has great potential as a learning and discussion tool. It is an hour and 15 minutes long, but if you can find a tech savvy staff member to hook the computer up to the television, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with residents. In addition to the person-centered care message, there are many topics in the episode that could spark fun discussion among residents and staff: childbirth, Christmas pageants, young women working in the 1950s, etc.

Here are some discussion questions for both residents and staff to get you going:

  • What are some things Nurse Jenny and Sister Evangelina do that show person-centered care?
  • What changes do you see in Mrs. Jenkins from the beginning to the end of the episode?

Steph Kilen has been writing about culture change since 2004. Her work at Action Pact has included writing and editing for Culture Change Now magazine and the website www.actionpact.com, as well as writing and editing workbooks, video scripts, books, blogs, webinars and curricula.

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