Living With Dignity at Silverado
By Jamie Langston, Director of Health Services, Silverado Valley Ranch
Someone once asked me, what are my feelings about the topic of dignity for geriatric patients? And whether or not there is enough being done to preserve the dignity of residents? Experiences in my career—both good and bad—flashed in my mind.
I have worked at a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) and had several years of experience as a hospice nurse visiting SNF communities. Receiving patients at hospitals, I worked as an ER nurse and a Critical Care Nurse. All of these experiences came before joining Silverado as Director of Health Services. I tell you this background because I want you to understand my experience on both sides of this issue.
A Shocking Experience
One story, that is very personal, was the reaction of my teenage daughter to where I work when I was with the SNF. She and a friend had stopped by my facility to see me. They were asked to wait at the nursing station since I was busy with a patient at the time. As they waited, a gentleman sitting in a shower chair was pushed past them. Both she and her friend were exposed to his partially uncovered body while he was being transported to the shower room. As you can imagine the feelings of two teenage girls, my daughter never came into my facility again. I felt humiliated, not only for what my daughter and her friend had witnessed but for the gentleman who was treated without an ounce of dignity.
When I took a job with Silverado, it took some serious convincing and pleading with my daughter before she was willing to visit my work place again. Fortunately, her negative expectations and memories of her previous shocking experience were shattered. She loves it here. Now, she will come and visit me for lunch and is starting to branch out to visit the residents. So what made Silverado different?
Love Is Greater Than Fear
With each community dignity starts with the feeling you have when you walk through the front door. Entering a Silverado community is like visiting someone’s home. The people are clean. The rooms smell like fresh flowers or sometimes fresh baked cookies or popcorn. Pets are allowed to roam the halls or sleep on a sofa chair curled up next to a resident. Families are encouraged to be a part of the resident’s lives and become a part of our extended family. It’s so simple to show you care and give dignity to people. Looking back at my past experiences, I realize how simple the issue really is: show people you care by listening, by validating, by responding, and by working as a team to provide the best care plan possible for each individual. Each day I feel like I am giving back dignity to the family and to the resident.
So many little things make such a big difference: vocabulary, priorities that place the resident’s needs first, an atmosphere that provides the chaos of a real life, encouragement to help people maintain as much self-care as possible, activities: from golf outings in the morning to reading groups at night, opportunities that encourage residents to stay active and involved. It is the Silverado way; to do what others say is impossible and let love be greater than fear.
What It Means To Care
We once had a resident leave on a Sunday afternoon to emergency room. Unfortunately, the family could not immediately be contacted. One of our caregivers accompanied the resident to the ER and stayed by her side for the next eight hours; well past her shift duties. She didn’t leave until the family was able to be there. She did this because she knew it would provide comfort and stability for the resident. She cared.
So do I see a difference? Absolutely, Silverado shows people dignity by providing for the whole needs of the resident and their families. From what I’ve experienced, we set the standard and I hope others will follow.