The quality of the care environment can profoundly affect the speed and success of a patient’s recovery from acute injury or illness. It is important, especially for elderly patients, to receive care in an environment that reminds them of a familiar setting.
Creating this environment may require architectural or interior-design changes like an open floor plan, a larger ratio of private rooms and full-access wireless, along with outdoor seating, indoor herb gardens and multiple recreation options. The goal is to provide patients with the comfort and niceties they are used to at home, while creating a welcoming environment for visiting family and friends.
Develop a Patient-Centered Approach
The typical environment for skilled-nursing care and rehabilitation is institutional. It has a large, centrally located nursing station with wide, long hallways and small rooms designed for utility, not comfort. These establishments were developed with medicine and technology in mind, not quality of life.
Excellent, state-of-the-art care is foremost, but patients also deserve the comforts of home. While most short-term care facilities do their best to provide some home-like features, patients often feel out of place and are counting the days until they can return home. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Features like private suites, courtyards, a Wi-Fi café and common recreation and dining areas can create the impression of a resort, a context that encourages rapid recovery.
Create a Visitor-Friendly Environment
One of the best healing remedies is a family visit. An environment that is designed to look like a resort, home or other non-clinical setting can encourage visitors to feel more at home. When a rehabilitation environment is warm and friendly, there’s a better chance family members will visit and stay longer. If the environment is cold and sterile, children, especially, will not look forward to visiting grandma.
Access to the Internet and electronic games, for example, makes the visit more enjoyable for all family members. Parents aren’t worried about keeping their children occupied and can focus on quality conversations with their loved ones. Creating a community-center environment encourages more socialization.
Additionally, this kind of environment can ease the anxiety family and friends may have before and during their visit. Often, visiting someone in a short-term care facility can be an emotionally taxing experience. Creating a warm, vibrant environment can be reassuring to loved ones who assume skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities are dreary, lonely, sterile environments.
Evangelize Culture Change
Short-term care facilities that are demonstrating a culture change should share their successes. There’s no one specific template, but leaders who are thinking along the lines of a new and improved way to help patients return to good health can talk about what works and what doesn’t.
As an example, we recently built a facility in Florida that has 60 private-suite beds and all the amenities of a resort. We view this investment as a way to inspire rapid recovery and rehabilitation so these patients can get back to a quality, active lifestyle. Our plan is to build more of these facilities and share our model with industry thought leaders to promote the kind of culture change that will only be made possible with a broader, national effort.
There’s a stigma about short-term care facilities that needs to be dispelled. With an increasingly diverse population (we are seeing more people in our facilities of all ages), an old-school approach just won’t work. Short-term care facilities are only a pause in life, not a resting place.
Connie Bessler is the CEO of Greystone Healthcare Management in Tampa, Fla. This article reprinted with permission. View the original article on the Curaspan website.