Yes, I contend activity professionals can save the world of LTC by stepping away from the institutional ways and into normal, real life. That’s all anyone wants, normal life. No one wants an institutional life. Everyone wants their real life. In fact, the culture change movement has taught me a person’s life moving into a nursing home or assisted living should be seamless, meaning your life remains your life, your way. No one wants to trade in their life for someone else’s life.
To make it personal, do this. Write down your morning routine very specifically, have someone else do this also. Then trade. Welcome to your new life. How do you like it? Do you hate it or love it? Guess why people might hate it? Because it’s not their life. Guess why people might like it or be okay with it? Because it basically matches. Makes the point.
Whose life is the institutional life anyway? Is it anyone’s or is it no one’s? Who decided on the breakfast time, for instance, in the home you represent? Did anyone who lives there decide on that time? One time for breakfast is actually a red flag that choice is not being given and there are numerous requirements for honoring choice. Ponder next, how about all those group activity times…?
Beware of institutional life and be proud move away from it. You can use your authority to be a leader and make steps away from institutional life. Sure, most of what we do is planned, but start somewhere to create some spontaneity. Maybe start with a block of time like Tues. afternoon maybe called something like You Choose – whoever comes gets to choose what will be done but only after they get there. Nobody knows what might happen until they get there and that particular group of individuals gets to decide….
Invite your whole community -those who work there, those who spend time there like families, friends and volunteers, and those who live there – to get more spontaneous. How does it go again? Oh yeah, variety is the spice of life.
The Eden Alternative, a model of changed institutional culture, says it this way:
We thrive when we have variety, spontaneity, and unexpected happenings in our lives. This is the antidote to boredom (2020 Principle Five, edenalt.org).
What if you simply started to talk about variety, spontaneity and unexpected happenings? Talk about them, ask about them. Be brave, ask how people are doing with boredom. We all know it’s a thing. What would help alleviate the boredom? What do people miss? What do people have to offer? Call it out that no one wants a boring, institutional life. See what happens. See how you can begin to save the world of LTC… and join me here each month with much more to come.
Carmen Bowman, MHS, of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change is an activities/engagement consultant and culture change coach. She is an Eden Alternative Associate and Mentor. She offers new or not-yet-qualified activity director consultation and personalized continuing education for the whole team. As a Regulator turned Educator, Carmen also provides be your own surveyor training. Training videos now available on https://www.patreon.com/educatering