The Boomers are coming! The Boomers are coming! For years, we have heard that the Baby Boomers, or the generation born during the post–World War II baby boom, are coming. When they arrive, everything will be different, including the way we help them manage their healthcare. The truth is, those born approximately between the years of 1946 and 1964 have revolutionized the way we work, the way we live and now, they will revolutionize how we move into retirement and beyond. While those of us in the healthcare sector have known that “they are coming” for quite a while, the reality of their presence is indeed changing… everything.
What is it about this particular generation that produces the need for great change? First, the sheer size of this group (estimated 75 million) makes preparing for their long-term medical needs a daunting task. Secondly, they know what they want and they plan to get it. This generation has lived through the technology revolution and they are not turning back. Television, smart phones, computers, and tablets, once seen as luxury items are becoming more embedded into everyday life. These “post war babies” have grown up in the ever-expanding American market place and have had a front row sheet to the development of a globalized world.
The Bedford Care Centers, located throughout central and south Mississippi, specialize in long-term care, rehabilitation and memory care. Since the 1970s, we have strived to provide quality care for our residents and fulfilling jobs for employees. Recognizing the changing demographic of our residents, we have focused our efforts on creating functional facilities equipped with the resources to provide high quality medical care in an environment that is homelike and adaptive to the needs of our residents and their families. Our facilities are focused on the integration of technology, new approaches to facility design, as well as the development of highly trained staff to meet the changing needs of our resident population. These areas are a few of the ways that we maintain our legacy of innovation in long term care.
In the eighties, a movie called “Back to the Future II” gave viewers a glimpse into the “future,” while the movie had some major misses, as we do not yet have flying cars, many of the predictions have come to fruition. Wearable technology has gained a great deal of attention from smart watches and fitness trackers, to Google glasses. Additionally, video conferences are available to the average consumer, even available on our phones. Of course, the tablet computer (such as the iPad) has found its way into the workplace and long gone are the days of the room-sized computer. What does all this mean? It seems that the future is now. Technology has significantly changed the way in which we work and live and the healthcare industry is no different. The changing landscape of healthcare, combined with new technology, provides great opportunity to improve access to and the quality of healthcare. Additionally, technology can be used to enhance the quality of life of residents by creating greater connectivity to friends and family.
The Bedford Care Centers join other healthcare organizations across the nation in embracing these new technologies and preparing them for our residents. One example is telemedicine, which refers to the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty, but is part of a comprehensive plan to utilize technology in improving healthcare. Telemedicine is closely related to Health Information Technology (HIT), however this usually refers electronic medical records and related information and telemedicine refers to the actual delivery of remote clinical services using technology.
Electronic health records are another example of new technology driving changes in healthcare. In the future, there will be interoperability among providers that would allow efficient access to one’s complete medical record. In turn, individuals will see an improvement in the continuity of care and a more holistic approach to care among multiple providers. Due to the extreme demands on the healthcare sector, utilizing technology to improve efficiency is imperative. Residents are also beginning to bring their own tech to facilities, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, and we must provide the necessary infrastructure to support these demands. We are only seeing the tip of iceberg in relation to technology advancements in long term care, which will benefit both providers and residents alike.
For more than a decade, a growing group of providers in the long-term care field have been working to facilitate changes in their nursing facilities that allow seniors to experience the choices, privacy, experiences, and relationships that are meaningful to them. This movement known as “culture change” desires to transform the long-term care medical model which has been found in nursing facilities for decades, to one that nurtures the human spirit, as well as meeting the often complex medical needs of today’s nursing facility resident.
Many aspects of culture change are already being implemented in nursing facilities throughout the country. The Bedford Care Centers have implemented resident-centered dining programs as well as increasing employee training on a resident-centered approach to care. Additionally, we are rethinking and redesigning facilities to better accommodate these approaches. An approach called the small household concept is taking shape in new facilities. This concept is designed to enhance feelings of community and provide residents with a more home-like atmosphere. The focus is placed on more intimate and individualized spaces and the comforts of home. Both Bedford Care Center of Picayune and Bedford Alzheimer’s Care Center have adopted this facility design which includes “neighborhoods” with smaller dining and living spaces with open-concepts and homelike designs. Residents and family members have enjoyed the welcoming environments, focus on resident comfort, and more intimate settings. These designs are more appropriate for the baby boomer generation and create a more personal living space for our residents.
Recent information from the Alzheimer’s association indicates that over five million Americans are living with dementia and that number may rise as high as fifty million by 2050. Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease. These overwhelming numbers prompted the Bedford Care Centers to develop a comprehensive plan to develop employee competence in caring for person’s living with dementia. With a combination of funding from grants, local community college workforce dollars, and company contribution, the Bedford Care Partners program was developed.
Research indicates that staffs specifically trained in dementia care are able to provide a better quality of life for residents and have increased confidence, productivity, and job satisfaction. Our goal is to expose employees to a new paradigm for Alzheimer’s and dementia care, in which they can be better prepared to identify the root cause of specific behaviors and better meet the psychosocial needs of this community.
The purpose of this project is to utilize the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) training program to provide staff with the knowledge of quality dementia care practices. The Positive Approach to Care model, developed by Teepa Snow, was selected as part of this program because it is designed to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with dementia and related challenges. According to her website, “Teepa's philosophy for living well with dementia focuses on the interpersonal dynamics of coping with a changing brain and is reflective of her diverse education, work experience, medical research, and first-hand caregiving experiences.” The Positive Approach™ techniques and strategies she developed are unique because in contrast to most programs that focus on the what of dementia (facts and information), PAC teaches the how to live in relationship with a changing brain.
This relational approach and hands-on skill technique offers the interpersonal skills needed to improve the quality of life of all those involved. These and other specialized training programs complement the existing skills training to further develop staff skills contributing to both improved patient care and reduced caregiver stress. Our employees are the cornerstone of our facilities, and we invest in their development as a means to retain and recruit exceptional talent. Additionally, we utilize tuition reimbursement scholarships, sponsor continuing education opportunities, and work to provide advancement opportunity for employees. If we invest in our employees, we are investing in the lives of our resident and that is what matters most.
The Boomers are indeed coming and, in many cases, are already here, but the Bedford Care Centers are ready for the challenge! Through technology integration, innovative facility designs, and specialized employee development, we are meeting the demands of the changing landscape of healthcare. Our legacy of long term care innovation drives our care centers to remain dedicated to the mission: honor the story, nurture the spirit, and provide care for a lifetime.
For more information contact Lindsey Lewis at email@example.com or visit www.bedfordcarecenters.com.
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