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Wesley Village - A Story of Planetree Continuing Care Implementation

Taking Action

One of the most important first steps in implementation was educating staff on culture change and engaging them in the vision of community-building and relationship-centered care.  At a farmhouse in the country, all staff participated in two days of experiential exercises on the aging process, teamwork, relationship-building, as well as their role in the process of implementation.  Residents, families, staff, and volunteers became an integral part of the process by setting goals and identifying improvements in each of the ten continuing care components.  The goals were then prioritized by a committee comprised of managers, line staff from all departments, residents and family.  The goals were posted along with quality improvement indicators to raise awareness and promote transparency of an environment that strives to exceed quality standards. 

The community began implementing programs to achieve these goals.  In many situations, the results far exceeded expectations and were fueled by the impetus of the line staff.  At the nursing home on campus, for example, they began implementing consistent staff assignment and explored other ways to ensure that resident routines and preferences were honored and that those residents determined the pace of care and services.  As changes were made to improve flexibility of meal times, for example, a domino effect took place, affecting the rhythms and routines of all departments.  At first, it was simply a breakfast buffet for short-term rehabilitation residents to enhance flexibility for waking and rehabilitation times and to provide a separate dining experience from our long-term residents.  Staff and residents responded so positively to the changes (the smell and aroma of food, hot toast, expanded choices, fewer call-downs to the kitchen, the bonding of residents with each other and with dietary staff, increased resident consumption of food, and an atmosphere of normalcy), that within 9 months, every resident benefited from a trayless buffet system during all meals.  The administrator notes that, for one pavilion of the nursing home, the shift occurred on a day that she was out of the building, a testament to the decentralization of leadership in the community. 

For many staff members, it involved a new way of looking at their jobs, and at excellence in providing services.  In the activities department, employees have long been evaluated by how many residents attend a program rather than the active engagement of the residents attending.  Through Planetree, the focus has now changed from the quantity of programs and the numbers served to the quality of programs and resident-directed programs that support teaching, mentoring, sharing, and the building of skills and talents.  For maintenance and housekeeping departments, an Earth-friendly cleaning program has been implemented with the use of all non-toxic cleaning supplies.  

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