LIMA — “This is a different way to do long-term health care,” David Watkins, director of admissions for the Lima Convalescent Home Foundation, said while standing in the latest nursing home in Lima.
“You’re basically empowering those who have a lifetime of making their own choices, and we’re giving them that choice back,” Watkins said of the 1650 Allentown Road facility. “This is giving them back their private rooms, but they’re still clinically taken care of.”
Consisting of two 9,000 square-foot brick-faced buildings, the new LCH project, or “The Greens,” encourages residents to maintain their freedom of choice and privacy in their old age. Unlike a typical nursing home, the floor plan consists of one common area — reminiscent of a living room with an extensive kitchen — and a grouping of private rooms with bathrooms lining each building’s perimeter. A spa and beauty salon are also included in each building.
LCH Executive Director Joy Reichenbach said the floor plan, however, is just one aspect of a much larger initiative to change how nursing homes function.
“The project just isn’t two pretty homes,” Reichenbach said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “They are pretty, but it’s a change of program.”
Green House Project Guide Claire Lucas, who works for the nonprofit consulting on programs that result in places like “The Greens”, said the updated system has been designed with three goals: To make a long-term nursing home feel like a true home, to give meaning to seniors’ lives and to create a better place for nursing staff. The final program resulting from such a paradigm shift is a new kind of nursing home experience “redesigned from the ground up,” Lucas said.
For example, individuals may still require clinical care throughout the day, but there’s no medicine cart rolling down hallways on a schedule or set dining periods, Watkins said. Even if someone gets up in the middle of night looking for a bite to eat, they can find a snack. If they want to help out in the kitchen, they can do that, too.
“If they want to help, there’s no ‘no’ in this house. It’s their house,” Watkins said.
Nursing staff duties have also shifted. Each 12-unit home is maintained by its own self-sufficient staff, and many of the STNAs have been trained to be able to do some basic cooking and minor maintenance. As a result, nursing schedules are more flexible, and the staff has a stronger say in what may benefit residents.
Even the slang has changed.
“In our new culture of nursing care, as a sign of respect, our residents will be referred to as ‘elders,’” the pamphlet for the new facility reads. “Elders are known as creative, resourceful and whole people who desire meaningful life.”
Watkins said while the building is complete, Ohio Department of Health officials have yet to make their final inspections. But once that’s done, “The Greens” will be ready to go.
“We’re ready to open when the state gets done,” Watkins said “(Residents) are waiting to come in.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.