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St. Ann's Puts Meaning Into Person-Centered Care

by Published On: Sep 26, 2012

On Sept. 24, I visited St. Ann's Community in Rochester, NY, to speak to a group of health care professionals and caregivers on the topic of improving dementia care and reducing antipsychotic drug use across settings.

While the conference was well attended and very well organized by the St Ann’s staff, the real treat for me was visiting the communities of their subacute unit; their long-term care and assisted living neighborhoods; as well as their nursing home, assisted living, memory care and independent housing at Cherry Ridge.  

It is clear that the leadership, medical staff, nursing staff and full team take to heart true person-centered care principles, which include the following:

  • Resident direction: care and other resident activities should be directed as much as possible by the resident.
  • Homelike atmosphere: structures and practices should make the resident feel at home.
  • Close relationships: between residents, family, staff, and the community.
  • Staff empowerment: work should support and empower staff to serve the residents.
  • Collaborative decision making: reducing hierarchy among staff improves performance and lessens turnover.
  • Quality improvement process: putting systems in place ensures quality is measurable and consistent.

Innovative delivery models, such as integrated therapy in the subacute unit that brings the therapist to the patient and works with them in real home-like settings, rather than a traditional gym, exemplify how staff use creative thinking to optimize individuals' needs and improve their care experience. 

Even the little details, like hiding suction and oxygen outlets in wall cupboards behind pictures that easily move up and out of the way, contribute to the sense of home and not medical care.

I was particularly moved by the newly opened hospice unit.  They have incorporated remarkable aspects of medical, spiritual, psychosocial and physical care in a setting that supports the individual and their family in the final days of life’s journey. I remarked with sincerity that this is truly how most people would want to die – in dignity and comfort, surrounded by their family and caring staff. 

Each time that I visit a member community, I am reminded not only of the incredible work that each of you do, but that together, our members demonstrate the remarkable not-for profit difference as we work together to expand the world of possibilities for aging.


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