Why We Believe Smaller is Better
The term person-centered care is a popular phrase that has been used throughout the long-term care industry for years. In truth, it is rare to find this type of care in action. The promise of individual care plans and freedom of choice for elders usually ends up looking a lot like the same old institutional nursing home care.
There are exceptions, and for Gary Foster and his family, the right type of care came at exactly the right time. Gary came to Whitman House – one of St. John’s two Green House Homes located in Penfield – on hospice. “He was not thriving,” remembers his daughter Julie. “He had lost a lot of weight.” Julie also noticed that her dad—a lifelong salesman who made a living conversing with others—had been making no attempt to engage with others prior to coming to his new home.
Some very subtle changes to how the staff at the Whitman House approached Gary’s care started paying dividends almost immediately. “You need to take your time with him,” says Ashok Kumar, a St. John’s shahbaz who remembers how staff members helped Gary feel at home in his new surroundings. “You need to be patient with him.”
Fortunately, the Green House model of care allows for the type of patience that was instrumental in drastically improving Gary’s quality of life. The small team caring for him was able to adjust to his routine, rather than forcing him to adapt to a set schedule. Instead of waking him up to have breakfast with everyone else, they turned on music or the television and let him get up on his own time. When staff did direct him to the dining room for a meal, they did not just put a plate of food in front of him and expect him to eat; they let Gary go at his own pace. They even sat with him and joked around, which helped Gary’s personality begin to shine through again.
Soon after his arrival to the home, Gary started regaining much of the weight he had lost. He was happier, more engaged. Ashok takes pride in knowing that the unique brand of care he provides Gary and other elders at the Green House Homes makes a difference. “I feel good thinking about where he was and how far he has come.”
Julie knows that real person-centered care has made all of the difference for her dad. “For us as a family- we couldn’t be more pleased with the care he is receiving.”