Ever said, “Just give me back the good old days”? Let’s take a look at what was good about those old days.
The year is 1990. The “new” OBRA regulations had just gone into effect. Our world of long term care was reeling and we were very busy trying to get our hands around what were the items the surveyors would be asking. Sure, we had regulations, but we were pretty comfortable with them and had learned how to work with surveyors successfully.
We were giving good care with the knowledge we had at that time. Most of the elderly folks presented with physical limitations. Those limitations were in ambulation, transferring and eating and we knew how to help them.
Many nursing homes were small and family owned where everyone knew the residents and their families from their community. Often the owner and the staff were personal friends with the folks from the community. The care was truly focused on the person.
Times have changed...or have they?
REGULATIONS: The laws governing nursing homes haven’t changed since 1990. We have learned how to meet those requirements. We have learned how to support our practice with evidence-based information. I often hear caregivers agree that the regulations speak to the kind of care they want for themselves when and if they become “residents”.
KNOWLEDGE: Sure there are new techniques and new approaches that we have learned. But we now have computers where we can find information with the click of a key. We have education available from a much wider variety of sources to keep us “up to date”.
STAFF: As I travel the country I continue to find the vast majority of staff members do care deeply for those entrusted to their care. Yes, the facilities are now owned by big companies, but the staff are still from the community they serve; they still know the folks as the people from their community.
RESIDENTS: Sure, the physical acuity of our residents has increased drastically. The number of residents with cognitive loss has compounded the challenges we are now asked to meet. But they are still folks from our community. They still are seeking to be known as individuals.
WHAT HASN’T CHANGED? We are still people caring for people. The residents are still looking for someone to know them and provide care that meets their needs.
The “good” we talk about from the “old days” is the same now as it was back then. I believe if we focus on our service to the people we will find the exact things that were important “back then” are still the things that make the difference.
In the final analysis it’s not about focusing on meeting regulations but on meeting the needs of people. That focus worked back in 1990 and it works today.