How does your design compare to a modern day senior home?
There is no comparison. A traditional nursing home is institutional. When you move in, you in a way lose your identity. You definitely lose your uniqueness. It’s not like the staff is at fault, it’s the way the system is set-up. It’s very different when you’re in an institutionalized nursing home which most nursing homes are. The thing you’ll hear people talk about is person-centered care and that [means] teaching staff to seek the residents’ suggestions on things more, do more at the residents’ timetable and attend to the residents’ needs and wishes more. But the truth is this system fights against all of those things.
What are the challenges you’ve seen with people wanting to build a household model?
There’s the need to get everybody involved without getting scared. If you say we’re going to do universal workers and all of the housekeepers are going to become CNAs [certified nursing assistants] and everybody in the kitchen is going to become CNAs and CNAs are going to do the cooking, it just freaks everybody out. We promote something that’s called a “versatile worker” instead of a “universal worker.” So we don’t expect everybody to become a CNA. We expect everybody to cross-train in something. From the CEO down, everybody cross-trains in something and that makes them more versatile.
Is this scaleable on the national level?
It is scaleable on a national level and I think it is going to be the new nursing home. My generation of people, and I’m 69 years old, who were born and raised and toughened up in the 60s are not going to tolerate bad service, shared rooms, a bath time that’s scheduled by somebody else. So the market is changing and we have to respond to that market. The neighborhood model is where you have a small group of staff, a very homey kitchen area, living room and dining room for each small group. I bet there are thousands out there already. So either neighborhoods or households so some of that or one of that, is going to be in that new building once it’s built and all buildings will be rebuilt or renovated overtime.
You call it the “new nursing home.” Is this a movement?
It’s a movement because people want it. First of all, all of us want a good life for our elders and we’re frustrated by the old nursing home way. We don’t want that. Every CNA and every nurse and every cook and every housekeeper in this country, every activities person, every social worker in this country who works in a traditional nursing home doesn’t want it for the residents they serve. They would so much rather have a good way for them to live. So you got that going for you. That’s the movement part of it. Then you’ve got the market.
Anybody who’s got a household model in their market area knows the pressure of having a decent place to showcase, to attract people to come to your home. Thirdly, you’ve got the customer. People my age, and 10 years older than me for that matter are not wanting the old way. They want to have a say in their life, they want to continue to contribute and give to others, they want to have a good daily life and when they look at this, and they’re much more consumer savvy, they’re not going to put up with the old way.