Louisiana’s nursing homes could be improved with some “culture changes” that would bring about a greater sense of community and self-sufficiency for residents, according to a group of nursing home policy experts. These experts, known as the Pioneer Network, have consulted with stakeholders in Louisiana as the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel develops its plan to reform long-term care.

According to the Pioneer Network, the traditional nursing home operates on a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Staff have the goal of delivering care in the most efficient manner possible. This model severely limits the independence of nursing home residents, as staff are allowed to make and enforce key decisions about their sleeping arrangements, food choices, entertainment and recreation.

The Pioneer Network recommends that nursing homes embrace some cultural changes that will create a sense of community and independence at nursing homes, both for staff and residents. This can be done through a series of small but effective changes that allow residents to make their own decisions about dining and rooming, participate in their own care plans and incorporate their own lifestyle into their activities and living arrangements at the nursing home.

For example, at a nursing home in Missouri that uses this approach, meals are offered buffet-style, with a variety of options served during a period of several hours. This allows residents to choose when and what they eat, rather than everyone being served a designated meal at the same time.

“This approach is part of the statewide movement to person-centered care,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “We want to allow our nursing home residents to receive the care and medical treatment they need while still maintaining their individuality.”

Studies by the Pioneer Network show nursing homes nursing homes that embrace culture changes have low employee turnover rates; fewer incidences of abuse or neglect; fewer deficiencies cited on annual inspections; and increased satisfaction among residents and their families.

The Department of Health and Hospitals, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office on Elderly Affairs, will host three conferences in different parts of the state featuring members of the Pioneer Network. The members will discuss cultural changes and offer ideas on how to implement them in Louisiana.

The conferences will take place on March 14 in Bossier City, March 15 in Alexandria and March 16 in Baton Rouge. All conferences will last from 7:30 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. The conference is open to any individuals involved in nursing home practices, such as owners, administrators, staff and any other stakeholders.

For the three years following these conferences, LDH will form an advisory committee that will look at awarding small grants to select facilities in Louisiana to implement cultural change projects. Grants will be offered for one year, but can be extended for two more years if the facilities demonstrate sufficient progress has been made. Funding for these grants will come from civil money penalty funds.

Culture Change: Resident-Centered Care Conference Schedule

Monday, March 14, 2005 – Shreveport/Bossier area
Isle of Capri Hotel
711 Isle of Capri Blvd.
Bossier City, La. 71111
7:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 – Alexandria
LA Convention Centre
2225 N. MacArthur Dr.
Alexandria, La. 71301
7:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 – Baton Rouge
Holiday Inn Select
4728 Constitution Ave.
Baton Rouge, La. 70808
7:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Please note that pre-registration is required to attend any of the conferences. To register for the conferences or to learn more about nursing home culture change in Louisiana, please contact the LDH Health Standards Section at (225) 342-0415 or visit the Web site at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=112, or contact the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs at (225) 342-6872. To learn more about the Pioneer Network, please visit www.pioneernetwork.net.