Culture change and person-centered care are no longer new ideas. Leaders in long-term care have been working to change the reality of nursing homes for decades now. Hundreds of organizations across the country use these words and claim to be changing their culture and providing person-centered care. Unfortunately, the reality of what culture change looks like and the ability to truly leave the institutional behind varies from home to home.
In my experience anyone working in a nursing home can easily come up with a list of things they’d like to change. But how do you transform successfully? Some organizations that are “doing culture change” start with cosmetic changes. Other leaders may come back from a learning experience and implement a system change without truly involving staff and residents, resulting in a short-lived or ineffective change. And some leaders hear the word “empowerment” and turn to the nurses and direct caregivers and say, “You’re empowered. Go ahead and become person-centered.”
All of the above will fail or, at best, result in serious stumbles.
To create successful and long-lasting change it is imperative to FIRST deeply understand your organization as a living entity; and then thoughtfully and in consensus, work together to create a shared vision. This shared vision will become the future pull that will draw your organization forward.
This is the subject of “Future Pull: Understanding the Culture in Culture Change” the chapter I authored in the new book Culture Change in Elder Care .
I discuss specific elements of the organization that you will need to analyze and how to go about creating that shared vision. Whether with the help of a consultant or utilizing your own leadership team, you must take a deep look at yourselves, grow in self-awareness, and consciously craft a new relationship style. By growing a variety of high involvement practices (i.e. learning circles, conversations with residents and staff, sharing decision-making) you will begin to shape your vision together.
In this line of work, we are too often checking tasks off a list. Instead we can begin to change the culture simply by changing the way we relate to one another and making time to have important conversations about what we want our home to be and how we will get there.
The chapter covers these and many other issues you will want to consider carefully as you shape your vision. Culture Change in Elder Care is now available in our webstore, and features writing from leaders in our movement who envision and work for better life for elders living in long-term care.
Read the chapter and then call me at 414-258-3649 to talk about an organizational assessment to better understand your culture. Might this be the best next step for your organization in its journey? Let’s talk it over. The conversation will be informative no matter what you decide. Action Pact conducts assessments (includes online surveys, on site interviews and observation, and web conference discussions) that are productive and informative before and after major transformations.
LaVrene Norton is the founder of Action Pact, an organization devoted to changing the culture of care environments for elders – making it possible to live in a homey place & have a good day every day, no matter how frail one becomes. Action Pact has assisted care organizations on their journey to households since 1997. Norton is co-author with Steve Shields of In Pursuit of the Sunbeam, and publisher of a variety of educational books, workbooks and videos focusing on the Household Model.