Topics discussed include:
– The elder shadowing program she implemented — where staff members live on-site for 24 hours.
– The importance of honoring the residents’ choices and their dignity.
– The sacrifices her staff make in order to be better at their jobs.
– Examining staff journals from their time living at the facility.
– Learning and teaching the true definition of dignity.
Tell me about your program called “elder shadowing.”
We make it a requirement that all brand-new staff have to live in the nursing home for 24 hours with a person that was already a resident there in order for them to really learn what it was like to live there.
Why did you start that program?
We were starting to make some cultural changes, but I felt like we were still missing something. Then I realized what was missing was truly treating residents with honor and dignity. This is a way to gain empathy for the residents’ experience.
Are your staff willing participants?
Yes, in fact, I had some staff that moved in for three days, some for a week and some for 11 days to really immerse themselves in the experience.
What aspects of writing your book on the subject most impacted you?
I invited all the staff that participated to journal the whole time they were there. I had all of those journals. I really enjoyed going back through and reading those journals and learning more about their experiences, and then sharing those journals and those stories with the readers.
How did you get into long-term care?
My parents were in long-term care, that was always their profession. I grew up in long-term care. As soon as I turned 16 and was able to drive to the nursing home, I worked at the nursing home on the weekends.
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