A Day in the Long Term Care Community

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A Focus on Person-Centered Care

Long term care communities are a place where the comfort of home and quality care intersect. Every day, professional care providers go beyond their assigned duties to make patients and residents feel at home, as the long term care profession focuses on person-centered care. Rather than dictating strict, hour-to-hour schedules, many skilled nursing care centers and assisted living communities embrace choice, or individual preferences, so residents can live freely in a safe and comfortable environment.

As our aging population is growing, so is our need for dedicated long term care professionals. Thankfully, there are caregivers leading the way towards high-quality care. Care providers, which can include nursing staff, dietitians, therapists, and activity directors, do everything from provide medical treatments, to therapies, and even to arranging Friday night happy hours. As you'll see through personal accounts from proud, experienced caregivers, their days on the job offer variety, joy, and fond memories.

Relaxed Schedules, Relaxed Residents

Kelley, owner and executive director of a care community in Florida, emphasizes that her most important priority is to make residents feel at home. To do so, Kelley and her staff ensure residents stick with their daily routines from the moment they wake up.

"We try to remember the small details of every day that make people happy, like getting the Miami Herald every morning," Kelley says. "I have to have a cup of coffee and my Miami Herald every morning, and I have patients that feel exactly the same way."

Certified caregivers acknowledge and respect that every resident has the right to choose his or her routine - or lack thereof. Stacy, director of nursing in a skilled nursing care center in Nebraska, explains the person-centered care approach.

 "It's learning that not everybody likes to get up and eat breakfast; sometimes they eat brunch at 10:30," she says.

And just like mornings, lunchtimes and early afternoons also vary. How about dessert in the middle of the day?

"All of the staff are encouraged and challenged to find the small things throughout the day that can make a resident happy," Kelley says. "[Something] as little as if they want ice cream in the middle of the day [and] going down to the kitchen and getting some.”

Although certified caregivers are flexible in their care approaches, they give special attention to taking medical, physical, and dietary needs into consideration. All states, at the very minimum, require a nursing assistant to be certified in order to work in a skilled nursing care center. The federal and state governments also have stiff requirements for all nursing staff. Thus, long term care communities are a place where the comforts of home and accessible care intersect.

"We have one patient, who I think is 98, and she tells us how she used to date Frank Sinatra," Kelley says. "So in the afternoons we'll play Frank Sinatra records or music.

"It makes her day actually to hear her 'fiancé' sing to her once again."

Kelley says that if the staff have fun, the residents will have fun too. Her community wants residents to enjoy their life.

"We make sure to offer the small things that make it feel like home to them, like wine in the evening and happy hour on Friday nights," Kelley says.

By focusing on personalized care, staff is encouraged to get to know residents as individuals first, then adapt care practices to the extent possible around what they learn. Patients' trust in their caregivers grows when they feel they can participate in their own care, and research shows that person-centered care improves the quality of life in patients.

"I come to work every day because it's my passion," Stacy says, and many professionals share her sentiments.

Looking for long or post-acute care? Start here.

Whether you're looking for a place for yourself or a loved one, it's important to note that skilled nursing care centers vary in their practices and overall ambiance. To help discern your preferences, you can use a number of resources on our site to help you choose the right type of care for you or your loved one. Get started by finding and evaluating care.