Supporting the psychosocial needs of elderly nursing home residents is possible with comprehensive person-centered care delivery.

New research has found that implementing comprehensive person-centered care in nursing home environments benefits both residents and staff—and most notably, it has a positive impact on the psychosocial well-being of elderly residents. 

A 2018 Leading Age LTSS Center @UMass Boston study sought to determine if the benefits of comprehensively implementing person-centered care justify the expense of reconfiguring an institutional space into a person-centered one. The results indicate that the psychosocial benefits for elderly residents, along with improved dynamics for care partners, make the provision of person-centered care training essential for nursing homes. 

The “household model” is a way that nursing homes can fulfill new CMS requirements and achieve measurable outcomes for residents and staff. 

The study highlighted the difference between comprehensive culture change and a partial adoption of person-centered care. The “household model” of senior living design is an example of a comprehensive implementation of person-centered care: it involves reconfiguring nursing homes to anchor small groups of residents around shared living and dining spaces, and doing away with longstanding institutional layouts that involve long hallways and a lack of social engagement. 

The household model has been gaining considerable traction as a social movement, as new generations approach their retirement years and seek to do away with the institutional nursing care environments of the past. 

Kim Warchol, founder of Dementia Care Specialists, shared her thoughts on these findings: 

“Warehousing people is much easier than catering to preferred life patterns, interests, and activity and food preferences. However, quality of life would not be possible if we became disconnected from our individuality. This intrinsic need doesn’t change due to age or diagnosis. Therefore, these study results are not surprising. Wouldn’t we all be depressed if our preferences and choices were disregarded? Kudos to Parker at Monroe and all those who are truly committed to providing person-centered care for embracing the required flexibility of the way day-to-day business is conducted and for their commitment to getting to know the people they serve. Anybody can say they offer individualized care, but doing it is the hard part. These study results are just one more reason to deliver on that promise of individualized care that we make to the resident and their family.”

She adds: 

“At the core of culture changes is person-centered care, and providing care that promotes emotional well-being, dignity, and purpose. These are some of the goals of care and are essential for quality of life. The provision of person-centered care requires commitment, training, and a prepared system.”

Recently, new CMS requirements took effect that make person-centered care a matter of policy, not just a recommended best practice, stating:
  • “…Facility staff members must implement person-centered care approaches designed to meet the individual needs of each resident.”
  • “…Competency involves staff’s ability to communicate and interact with residents in a way that promotes psychosocial and emotional well-being, as well as meaningful engagements.”
  • “… These reasonable accommodations may be directed toward assisting the resident in maintaining and/or achieving independent functioning, dignity, and well-being to the extent possible in accordance with the resident’s own needs and preferences.”

The household model implements person-centered care by design, both in the physical configuration of the space, and in staff’s approach to delivering care and providing support to residents. The outcome of a comprehensive implementation like the household model is a more “homelike” environment that supports closer relationships between residents and staff, and provides greater empowerment and autonomy both to residents in their daily choices and to staff in their careers. 

Residents responded particularly well to the dynamics of a household model approach to person-centered care. Their psychosocial needs of elderly residents were more effectively met, with positive outcomes. In this interview with Kim Warchol, you'll learn:
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Fewer antipsychotic prescriptions
  • Less idle time
  • More interaction with staff

Those first two outcomes: reduced depressive symptoms and a reduced number of antipsychotic prescriptions, fit perfectly within new CMS guidelines that emphasize a person-centered approach to these issues in memory care settings like nursing homes.  

The Leading Age study noted that among the benefits to the psychosocial well-being of elderly residents, the improved depression treatment and overall cognitive health of residents reflects the value of a comprehensive approach to delivering person-centered care. They suggested that improved dynamics between residents and staff could be partly responsible—more social engagement and less idle time could certainly fuel a reduction in depressive symptoms. 

Training can empower your facility to consistently meet the psychosocial needs of elderly residents and improve organizational performance.  

The study points out that even if your facility doesn’t have the means to physically reconfigure its space, there are still many ways to positively address the psychosocial needs of elderly residents in a nursing home setting, with the added benefit of improved staff resilience and organizational performance. 

Person-centered care techniques position a care partner and care recipient in roles of mutual empowerment and respect. Dementia Capable Care training provides both the skills and confidence to help staff at every level of an organization embrace effective, person-centered care techniques. And the train-the-trainer delivery model allows organizations to certify individual staff members to teach these techniques to their peers on-site, helping facilities achieve ROI more rapidly and sustainably. With practical solutions that staff can readily embrace, profound outcomes like culture change and 

As industry regulations and evidence-based approaches come ever more into alignment, it’s never been a better time to embrace the culture change movement and make a meaningful commitment to person-centered care in your nursing home facility.

Person-Centered Care Podcast!

Listen to episode 67 of Unrestrained, a CPI podcast, to hear Dementia Care Specialists founder Kim Warchol explain how she developed the gold standard of person-centered dementia care, the Warchol Best Abilities Care Model℠.