North Arkansas Life Care Center in Horseshoe Bend has been busy implementing a culture change at its facility to make the nursing home a place where people come to live and enjoy the rest of their lives and not a place where people go to die.
NALCC is working to make the facility less of an institution and more like a home, according to the center's administrator, Alice Karr, and John Satterfield, White River Health System, both guest speakers at the Horseshoe Bend Chamber of Commerce meeting Sept. 11 at Turkey Mountain Restaurant.
Karr and Satterfield have teamed up to make the center a more desirable facility for patients.
Both agreed nursing homes are famous for being depressing places to live. But the administration at NALCC thinks residents deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and freedom to choose their lifestyles rather than having their lives dictated by nursing home staff.
Karr said the center is committed to providing care the way it was intended to be provided and setting the example for the world to follow -- to improve the quality of life and quality of care for the elderly in nursing homes across the nation.
Patients in Horseshoe Bend will have a choice of buffet dining so they can choose what time to eat with extended dining hours. Patients can even request such foods as pizza and ice cream.
Pet therapy is a clinically proven improvement, Karr said, because it helps patients focus on doing things with pets and not their own illnesses. Patients are given the opportunity to interact with the center's cat.
Neighborhood teams is another change in progress -- the same staff care for the same resident every day can result in the development of relationships. The nursing home has been divided into separate neighborhoods for patients who are bedridden and those who are able to socialize. Activities are planned by each neighborhood leader to get patients involved and to keep them active. Some of the neighborhoods have even been given names such as Hollywood, Green Acres, Yellow Brick Road, Primrose Lane and Main Street.
Future plans include decorating the center with a more home-like atmosphere. Gone are the days of everything beige; color schemes are in the works.
"The changes have been positive for patients," Karr said.
The center is always looking for volunteers, Karr added.
In other business, chamber President Merle Hagerty said the election of new officers will be held Oct. 9 at the Eagle's Club at 5 p.m.
Hagerty has accepted a position on the Women's Health Commission at Baxter Regional Medical Center. She will be involved in promoting women's health and well being.