Nursing homes in training for a ‘culture change’


Several area nursing homes are part of an initiative focused on person-centered care.

Entitled “Accelerating Quality Improvement for Long-Stay Residents in Michigan Nursing Homes Using Culture Change,” the project aims to improve staff skills and operations when caring for elders and clients with disabilities, advocating for a "culture change" from institutional methods to those that value people first.

Area facilities taking part include: Metron of Forest Hills in Grand Rapids, Beacon Hill At Eastgate in Grand Rapids, Metron of Big Rapids, and Spectrum Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Centers of United Hospital in Greenville and Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview. The sixth facility is Martha T Berry Medical Care Facility in Mount Clemens.

The project is being managed and evaluated by Ann Arbor-based Altarum, a nonprofit health care research and consulting organization.

The Michigan project will center on education and coaching from The Eden Alternative, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a quality of life for elders and their care partners.

The training is designed to help staff implement practices and protocols that gradually shift from institutional patterns of service delivery to care more individually tailored to residents and those working most closely with them, also emphasizing closer connections between residents and staff, the partners said.

Denise Brady, administrator at Metron of Forest Hills, said leaders applied for the program to help create a more welcoming and comfortable home for the residents, changing the way staff and residents view each other and the facility.

Nursing homes shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all care mentality, she said.

“Some things may work for one person but not others,” Brady said.

Rather, residents should have some form of independence in a culture that makes life worth living, she added.

That means training everyone, from leadership to maintenance, to encourage staff to interact and form relationships with residents, not just strictly do their jobs.

Altarum will assess the impact and sustainability of culture change education by monitoring clinical quality measures, assessing the economic impact and analyzing quality-of-life reports from residents, family members and staff.

Nursing homes’ leadership and staff will receive the training quarterly, the first at the start of the study.

Anne Montgomery, deputy director of Altarum Program to Improve Eldercare, said the nonprofit will work with the participating nursing homes from where they are in the process, considering the realities and past progress of the homes as they work to improve culture.

The Eden Alternative will provide the homes with consulting services to equip them with the information, skills and resources to sustain the transformation.

With private rooms and a summer courtyard, Brady said she thinks Metron of Forest Hills has better amenities than some others. She said she would like to have a vegetable garden among new activities to help residents better enjoy where they live.

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