It has long been recognized that the kitchen is the heart of any home, but for far too many elderly residents in long-term care, comfort can be hard to come by in the sterile dining halls and kitchens where their meals are served.
In mid-December, Edmonton’s CapitalCare — Canada’s largest public long-term care provider — took a grand step towards bringing comfort back into its oldest kitchens and dining rooms with the launch of a newly-renovated gathering space at one of its homes.
CapitalCare Grandview was built nearly 40 years ago when nursing homes were constructed as extensions of hospital settings for elderly people who couldn’t return home after a debilitating illness or accident landed them in the world of continuing care.
The dining rooms of that era, in which many residents still gather at meal times, epitomize the institutional feel that organizations such as CapitalCare are trying to eliminate in their facilities in favour of more homelike environments.
The unveiling of the new dining room and kitchen on one floor at Grandview is the visible manifestation of a greater transformation underway within the organization.
Renovations are slated for an additional 18 dining rooms representing a $4 million investment in a better quality of life for residents.
This transformation goes back at least 17 years to a time when a new type of care environment for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was introduced in Edmonton.
CapitalCare’s McConnell Place North, which opened in mid-1995, is celebrated as a departure from the traditional nursing home model. The home’s smaller wings are cozy with individual kitchens and dining rooms and things like nursing stations, uniforms and medication carts are non-existent.
The organization’s older facilities, however, such as Grandview, Lynnwood and Dickinsfield, are somewhat outdated in this respect and new furniture and finely decorated dining rooms are signs of the ongoing shift to a more resident-centred focus at CapitalCare.
“Nursing homes that are 30 years old and older look and feel like hospitals, not someone’s home,” says Iris Neumann, CapitalCare chief executive officer.
“At CapitalCare we are making changes that will help people feel like they are living in the comfort of their own homes.”
While renovations are visible signs of this ongoing transformation, there is much to do as far as making the necessary changes that aren’t as easy to see.
CapitalCare is embarking on a journey to shift its whole philosophy of care away from the institutional/medical model towards a model that focuses on the holistic needs of the resident.
To that end, CapitalCare is introducing the concept of person-centred care to Western Canadian caregivers at its upcoming conference — The Passion of Person Centred Care — February 2-3 in Edmonton.
Speakers include some of the sector’s leading experts in the shifting culture of elder care, such as Jennifer Carson, Dr. Allen Power, Linda Bump, Joan Devine and Olivia McIvor.
For more information about the conference or CapitalCare, visit http://www.capitalcare.net/ and if you have questions or comments, please contact kristian(at)axiomnews.ca, or call 800-294-0051, ext. 24.