Person-centered care is a concept we are hearing about more often these days. And as far as we’re concerned, that is as it should be. It has been the focus of our Anthem Memory Care communities since we opened our doors and continues to impact everything we do, from day-to-day care, to dining, to the many activities and programs our people provide for our residents.
An integral part of person-centered care is recognizing the need for residents to spend their time in purposeful activities. After all, regardless of who we are and what we do, we all want to have a sense of purpose in our daily lives. That sense of purpose can make a big difference to people living with dementia.
Pathways of Purpose is about more than just living, it’s about living well, despite dementia.
The traditional care model in this industry has always been more task oriented than engagement oriented. However, when staff members look at each interaction with residents as a series of tasks it hinders meaningful connections with them. It also stifles the natural desire to find meaning in everything they do. This isn’t healthy for the resident or for the caregiver.
The recognition of the importance of purpose in every life is the driving force behind our Pathways of Purpose, a person-centered approach to life engagement that is tailored to the ability of each resident to live his or her best life. The program supports resident wellbeing by affirming identity, fostering meaningful connections with others, supporting autonomy, and providing opportunities to keep growing. The goal is to go beyond simply caring for individuals with dementia, it is about living well, despite having dementia.
Every activity is an opportunity to find purpose. That’s where our life engagement team excels.
Central to Pathways of Purpose is our life engagement team. They are creative, dedicated individuals whose unique talents and creativity bring purpose to every activity and project they design. Whether it takes the form of a visit with local students, a fund-raiser, or putting their skills to work to build and create things to give to those in need. These activities are fundamental to leading a purposeful life. We depend on our life engagement team to bring them to life. And they never disappoint.
The impact of this new approach has led to marked improvements in emotional wellbeing.
Since Pathways of Purpose has been implemented, we have noticed behavioral changes in both residents and staff. Residents are less inclined to become agitated and there have been fewer instances of wandering. Staff members report that their jobs seem easier and more enjoyable when they approach each interaction differently.
Michael Zywicki, Anthem’s VP of Programs and Engagement recently was interviewed by McKnight’s Senior Living about person-centered care and the Pathways of Purpose ideology. He explained that “living the program as a culture” is key to making staff members feel connected to residents and to each other. Getting to know residents in smaller settings has increased the sense of intimacy and has actually led to the need for less medication use for behavioral issues.
“If you can get a smile out of somebody, you’re doing something right.”
Michael sums it up, explaining that Pathways of Purpose is more than just another program. It impacts culture because staff has a new outlook on how they impact the lives of residents. “We’re trying to look at just how we do everything differently now,” he told McKnight’s Senior Living. “One slogan is, ‘If you can get a smile out of somebody, you’re doing something right’.”
(Our header image shows Christopher Balmes, Life Engagement Director for Vineyard Place Memory Care in Murrieta, California sharing a spontaneous moment of fun with residents.)