Parkside Homes gets person-centered care award; others striving for same
“Cuddles” isn’t just a bunny that lives at Parkside Homes in Hillsboro; she’s an unofficial poster rabbit for a growing trend aimed at transforming the way nursing homes care for their residents: person-centered care.
Parkside has a pet rabbit because residents asked for one. That’s all director Gretchen Wagner and her staff needed to make it happen.
“At Easter this year, we had somebody bring therapy bunnies to visit,” Wagner said. “A couple of the residents asked, ‘Can we have a bunny?’ Before that day was done, a bunny was donated, and we got a portable bunny hutch. We had to figure out how to make it safe, how to meet the regulations, but it means so much to residents.”
At the heart of person-centered care is choice, certified nurse assistant Brenda Hilliard said. Where nursing homes once made residents adapt to institutional routines, person-centered facilities provide flexibility for residents to make choices about their daily activities.
“It gives them control over their own lives,” Hilliard said. “No one wants to be told what to do and when to do it.”
Residents have choices in such things as when they get up, what they eat, and what activities they participate in, Hilliard said.
Sometimes residents don’t directly ask for something, but staff pick up on comments. Hilliard said one resident that was a gourmet cook talked about a pot roast recipe she used to make, and kitchen staff used her recipe to prepare dinner one evening.
Choices residents make aren’t always beneficial, Hilliard said, so staff engage with them in a problem-solving process to resolve situations.
“Usually it turns out OK,” Hilliard said. “You can still take care of the residents and give them choices and give them some dignity.”
Parkside, Bethesda Home in Goessel, Peabody Health and Rehab, and St. Luke Living Center in Marion all promote person-centered care through participation in PEAK 2.0, a program offered by Kansas State University’s Center for Aging.
The program supports facilities as they work toward goals for improving resident choices, staff empowerment, home environment, and meaningful lives, and conducts on-site progress evaluations. When specified levels of performance are attained, institutions receive additional Medicaid reimbursement.
Parkside was named a 2015 PEAK 2.0 award winner, its third such honor since the program’s inception in 2002.
Bethesda Home was a PEAK award winner in 2010. CEO Eric Schrag said person-centered care has been a focus at Bethesda since major facility renovations in 2007.
Space, staffing, and services were reorganized to create “neighborhoods” that foster consistent relationships and more home-like care, Schrag said. While the approach requires more resources to implement than “the old hospital model,” residents and staff both benefit.
“Staff feel like they’re connected to residents,” he said. “They always have, but much more so with a person-centered approach. When families come to visit, they get to know the staff and have better relationships with those in their neighborhoods.”
Wagner said she would like for Parkside to become an official mentoring site for other facilities in the PEAK program. Staff from other programs already have visited Parkside to observe how they implement person-centered care.
However, Hilliard’s focus remains on continuing the benefits of person-centered care for Parkside’s residents.
“Our residents are happy,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like someone is making them stay there, because they have choices. You don’t have to battle and struggle and persuade. They feel like they’re at home.”