Monday, March 15, 2010

Health Care Hero Finalist: Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2010 finalists is on Wednesday, March 24, but before the big day we wanted to use this space to profile the nominees.

Advancement in Health Care: Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital

A true neighborhood is more than people just living in the same area. It is also a feeling of closeness that those people share.

In 2005, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital became the first long-term care center in Maryland to begin implementing the Neighborhood Model. We are constantly striving to improve the concepts created by William Thomas, M.D. The national concept of the Neighborhood Model turns the traditional structure of a nursing home upside down to become more resident-centered. This means that residents are given the ability to make more choices about their daily lives. Levindale employees are also empowered to hear those choices and to act on them.

Culture Change
In the business world, it is always a challenge to retrain people. However, it’s nothing new for Levindale to be a pioneer for the elders that it serves. Levindale’s culture change journey began when it became the first Eden Alternative center in Maryland in 2000. The Eden philosophy recognizes how important quality of life is for all residents.

So it only seemed natural that Levindale would embark on the inventive Neighborhood Model, the next step of culture change. This includes:
  • Giving residents more control over their lives, by having staff schedules work around what residents want.
  • Improving the one-on-one relationships between staff members and residents.
  • Improving the staff’s commitment to patient care and the work environment.
  • Showing employees that they are appreciated.
  • Increasing family involvement and satisfaction.
Structural Changes
The Neighborhood Model not only requires cultural change but organizational restructuring. Levindale has gone from using a medical model to using a quality-of-life health model. It has also redesigned the way that it operates, switching from a traditional top-down management organization to self-governing teams.

Each unit is now a neighborhood. Neighborhoods are made up of the residents who live there and the employees who work there, from nurses to housekeepers to social workers to dietary employees. Neighborhoods incorporate families and visitors. Each neighborhood has a leader, who can be from any department.

Levindale has made the commitment to spend the time and resources to train every employee in the Neighborhood Model philosophy. No matter what department, each employee is part of a neighborhood and taught the principles of homelessness, sensitivity, enhanced dining, plus encouraged to know residents for who they are.

Levindale continuously works to empower the staff and to build neighborhood teams to self schedule, problem solve and plan social events with more resident involvement.

Finally, Levindale is breaking ground this year to build new buildings and renovate existing ones to construct private rooms and kitchens on each floor.

We believe the Neighborhood Model is the future of nursing home care. The top priorities are to make sure the residents enjoy life and that employees think it is the best place to work. These are lofty goals, but ones that can be achieved.

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