Nursing homes across the U.S. and across the region are making positive strides toward person-centered care through a program implemented in 2008.

Missouri Coalition Celebrating Care Continuum Change or MC5 is educating nursing homes and providing culture change benefiting residents and staff alike.

Care Connection for Aging Services Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Kathy Ray-Smith, of Warrensburg, said the organization is promoting statewide culture change. Ray-Smith is also a regional representative of MC5 who works with four other regional representatives, Beth Hunt, Eric Kerwood and Megan Fidler, all of Crossroads Hospice, and Angela Boone, a social worker at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg.   

“Person-centered or person-directed care … that is what MC5 is all about,” Ray-Smith noted. “(It’s) educating nursing home staff on how to make the nursing home experience or long-term care experience a social model rather than the hospital model.

“Several years back before people started embracing this, it was very much like a hospital,” she continued. “There was nothing wrong with that when they first started building nursing homes in the late 1960s.”

She added that once America moved from poor farms and gained a “conscience” it began to look at long-term care differently. At the time, the best example of quality care was a hospital. So, nursing homes were modeled after a hospital setting.

“It’s clean, it’s safe … but who wants to live in a (hospital)?” she noted. “The real movement is a shift from the hospital setting to a social setting. Nursing homes are still providing care and sometimes care is like a hospital, but they do it in a home setting.”

Ray-Smith said several of the larger nursing facilities in Sedalia are implementing the person-centered care program.

“This is the important thing, every nursing home that admits residents on Medicare and Medicaid are going to have to show that they are on this journey,” she noted. “Or they may not be funded. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are totally behind all of this culture change. Since they are the purse strings of all of health care, people are listening much more than they would have.”

Person-centered care has many benefits. Ray-Smith said normally residents would all get up at the same time, eat at the same time, and bathe on designated days. Person-centered care

allows more individuality. Residents have a two-hour window for meals and can wake and go to sleep at times that are comfortable for them. They can choose what days they want to shower.

“I have worked in long-term care for almost 45 years,” Ray-Smith said. “I’ve seen the evolution from many points.”

She added that regional nursing home staff are working toward becoming more person-centered.

“That’s the wonderful thing, it’s a journey,” she said. “It’s not something that can happen overnight. Back in the day, the people weren’t considered at all … and now we look at the people.”

Personal choices are good for residents’ mental health also. Ray-Smith said the program is finding that residents who live in a home that looks at them as individuals, not as a group, are happier and more positive. MC5 is also a positive factor in staff consistency.

“The satisfaction is much greater and a lot of the homes are finding the turnover in their help is less,” she said. “Because the caregivers are getting to build a relationship with that person.

“It’s always a wonderful thing to look at the person,” she continued. “It makes a world of difference not only to that resident but to the caregiver who is helping to make a good life at that home. Because that is home for these people. Anything we can do to make someone feel at home in that setting, we need to do it.”

Sedalia is the host city for the West Central MC5 Region. Meetings are hosted quarterly at the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center. The next meeting will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Dec. 4. There will be a continuing education unit for administrators, social workers and activity directors. All nursing home, hospice and in-home care workers and others are invited to attend. All meetings are free

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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