Culture Change & Person-Centered Care: If it’s so right, why is it so hard?

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When people hear about Person-Centered Care, they say, “Of course! That’s what we all want for our loved ones and ourselves!” Or they say, “We already focus on the person, so we’re already providing Person-Centered Care.”

As the Culture Change journey unfolds, however, these same people often get frustrated and sometimes discouraged by the challenges they face to change their practices, the culture of their organizations, and even themselves.

Long term-care is based on a medical model. The schedules, routines and practices involved in providing care and services have been in effect for many, many years. In the medical model schedules for “patients” dictate when they get up in the morning, when they eat their meals, what day and time they bathe, when they go to an “activity,” when they go to therapy, take their meds, go to bed at night and, sometimes, even when they go to the bathroom. Everyone knows what is supposed to happen and when. Everything is organized by day, shift, hours, and sometimes minutes.

From a medical perspective, we do a good job taking care of “patients,” but how can we move beyond this?

Person-Centered Care transforms a “patient” into a PERSON, and an “institutional environment” into a HOME. In fact, person-centered practices are accepted as the gold standard globally by the World Health Organization and The Institute of Medicine.

So why are our old habits so hard to change? Because the structure and organization of the medical model provides routine and is familiar. Change is not easy, but it is worth it in the long run.

Person-Centered Care requires a cultural transformation. We must undo the medical model.

With Person-Centered Care, resident choices and preferences are not only honored, they actually dictate how work is done.

With Person-Centered Care, residents are engaged and involved in making decisions about everything in their daily lives. “Caregivers” become CARE PARTNERS, and the staff and residents work together to help make these changes become reality. CARE PARTNER TEAMS work together to create a life worth living.

Staff care partners who work directly with the residents know them best. They must be involved in planning and arranging how and when services and care are provided in order to deliver true Person-Centered Care.

In a person-centered organization the schedule for the day or shift is no longer focused on a rigid routine. Instead the schedule allows for change and flexibility.

As your organization begins your Culture Change journey, set specific, small, achievable goals and find ways to celebrate each success. Celebrating and documenting your progress will keep things moving forward.

You are not in this alone! Identify mentors who are also on the culture change journey. Work together to discuss challenges, solve problems, and share ideas.

Changing the culture of your organization and moving to Person-Centered Care is a journey. A journey can only be accomplished one step at a time.

What steps are you and your organization taking?

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