According to Sampsell (2003), “76 million baby boomers are getting ready to enter long-term care (LTC) facilities over the next 25 years” (p. 41). For seniors who need intensive medical care, nursing homes have served as the primary provider to those older adults who “have chronic health problems which are often accompanied by physical impairments and functional limitation” (Luskey and Ingman, 1994, p. 265). In anticipation of this increasing demand for services, there are industry visionaries who are working to change the way the public, the consumer, and the staff within long-term care view nursing homes by implementing “nontraditional principles to attract new residents” (Sampsell, 2003, p. 41). Overcoming the public’s perception of nursing homes, however, may prove to be a greater challenge than securing funding for these new facilities. A majority of the elderly and the public view nursing homes as “the last resort for older people” (Nay, 1998, p. 401). This paper will examine two of those alternative long-term care concepts, the Eden Alternative and the Pioneer Network, and report some common perceptions that society has held regarding nursing home care. Further, this paper will discuss the problems that have resulted in implementing these innovations for staff and residents.
The AARP (2007, Capacity) reported in “2004 there were 16,100 certified nursing homes in the United States.” While most people recognize that nursing homes play an important role in addressing the needs of older adults who need advanced care, a majority of people have negative opinions about the quality of life that residents experience during institutionalization, as suggested by Wiener (2003). According to a survey conducted by The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health (2001), public perceptions of nursing homes included:
The majority of respondents believed that nursing homes were understaffed, that staff was poorly trained, that at least some nursing home residents are abused and neglected, that many residents do not have enough privacy and cannot rely on the safety of their belongings, and that many residents are lonely. (Survey)
Nay (1998) observed that there were several common themes that emerged in her interview of nursing home residents. Residents routinely expressed feelings of powerlessness, loss of autonomy, depersonalization, helplessness, and a fear of alienating staff (Nay, 1998). Not surprisingly, according to the The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health (2001, Survey) respondents believed, “86% of most people who stay in a nursing home never go home.” Based on society’s overall negative viewpoints of nursing homes, it is not difficult to see that traditional long-term care facilities are in need of reform, as well as an image makeover.
The Eden Alternative is a relatively new development in long-term...