I travel for work, a lot, and so I am very familiar with the feeling of “coming home,” of looking forward to being with my family again and settling into the comfort and security my home offers. As part of Action Pact’s transformation work with clients, we explore the elements of home, one of which is “journeying.” Whether for an hour, a day or a few weeks, journeying includes the excitement of planning for the trip, the experience of being away from home and the inevitable return. I’ve been wondering if I, as a serial traveler, experience journeying the same way people living in nursing homes, assisted living and personal care do.
Certainly the longing to come home is the same: Consider this great story shared with me by a caregiver in Louisiana who serves people living in the Household Model. After telling us about how different the residents were in households compared to the old model – more engaged, happier, speaking up more, speaking when they hadn’t been – she shared this gem: An elder from the household was in hospice care in the hospital and told her family that she just wanted to go home. Her daughter said, “Fine, Mom, we’ll get all of your stuff from the nursing facility and take you home.”
But the elder said, “No, I mean my new home, back with my friends.” She meant the household she had been living in for over a year. Her experience in the household was such that she considered it “home.” This is one way to think about that element of home we call journeying; we can be away from home because the comfort, security and familiarity of home is always there in our consciousness. We feel we have a place to return to.
Maybe that is why when folks ask me – and they do, often – how I can stand traveling so much and don’t I hate it, I am never sure if they mean do I hate the travel or the being away from home. I don’t like being away from home, but one reason I can is because I know I always have a home to return to. And that home, luckily for me, has all of the elements that we work hard to facilitate in the Household Model: power and autonomy, identity, connectedness, lived space, safety and predictability.
Megan Hannan, MS, is an Executive Leader at Action Pact and has provided leadership in long-term care for over 25 years. Megan developed Action Pact’s signature train the trainer program, PersonFirst®. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Pioneer Network.