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Over the years, healthcare providers have endeavored to change healthcare practices and develop new methodologies that benefit the person being cared for. Weiner & Ronch described this shift as an effort to make “long-term care less about care tasks and more about caring for people and the relationships between people.”1

Person-centered care includes (but is not limited to) personhood, maximizing choice, comfort, and organizational support. It is about providing care in such a way that residents feel honored and valued, and are not just another number or task to be checked off. Personal preferences should be taken into account so that residents feel that they have a say in their daily activities. In order to accomplish a system of true person-centered care, there must be support from administration and all levels of staff.

In order to determine what methods or systems could be developed to accomplish person-centered care, the Oregon Health & Science University Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence partnered with 9 long-term care facilities. In this article, we will look at some of the changes and outcomes that resulted from this partnership.

Personalized Bathing

One of the facilities endeavored to implement person-centered care into their bathing routine. They changed their bathing methods so that they could implement a “bathing success portfolio” that detailed what worked well and what did not work well. A unique portfolio was created for each resident so that in the event of a staffing change, the assisting care provider would be able to implement the same routine and procedures for the bath. In the process of creating the bathing success portfolio, they realized that the bathing experience was more important than the act of bathing itself.

Flexible Meal Systems

Another long-term care facility changed their entire meal system to be flexible so that it could accommodate personal dining choices and meal times. For example, the facility extended the breakfast availability window by an additional two hours. This allowed residents to wake up and eat when it was convenient for them. The facility also began cooking meals to order with kitchen crew becoming wait staff. This allowed residents to choose their own food from a menu and have it freshly prepared. Now, residents get a choice of when, where, and what to eat. The end result was a high satisfaction level among staff and residents, and food waste was eliminated almost entirely.

In Summary

Person-centered care is the future for long-term care facilities. Instead of residents being just another check box on a long list of things to do, systems and routines can be developed in order to make the lives of residents better and create a more positive atmosphere for everyone.


1Weiner, A.S., & Ronch, J.L. (2003). Culture change in long-term care. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Social Work Practice Press. P 13

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