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Spirituality and culture change in skilled nursing facility

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Nursing homes have long been a negative issue in our culture. This perception stems from allegations of abuse, neglect, or simply the traditional hospital atmosphere. Common complaints run from the adverse smells in the facility, quality of food, and a sense of residents feeling as if they are in a prison. Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, Stacey Burling, published an article today on the culture change movement afoot across the U.S. She writes about how this movement is rapidly changing these negative perceptions by changing the culture within long term care facilities.

Signature HealthCARE is one of the companies leading the charge in this movement and they have brought Northeast Ohio to the cutting edge. The company purchased Renaissance North in Warren on 1 Dec 2013. In just the two months since, sweeping changes have been implemented, including the placement of an on-site, non-denominational Chaplain / Director of Spirituality. One might expect to find a chaplain operated by the Lutheran or Catholic Church, but Signature of Warren is the first in the area to have an on-site chaplain serving the diverse spiritual needs of its residents.

Burling's article does not address spirituality specifically, but she does point out how resident choice is the hallmark of this culture change movement. When residents are given the power to choose when to wake up, when and what to eat, and many other personal preferences, the logical extension is that choice should also include spirituality. Many nursing homes bring in local clergy and volunteers to provide worship services and Bible studies. Signature HealthCARE of Warren, however, is developing an entire spiritual care program that considers the spiritual needs of each resident. People whose spirituality is Catholic will have opportunity to attend mass on a regular basis. Likewise people whose spirituality is of a mainline, Protestant tradition will have opportunities meeting those beliefs, as well. In fact, Signature HealthCARE espouses three "pillars" or values and one of those is spirituality. Each of their facilities employs at least one chaplain to meet the diverse spiritual needs of those who live and work there.

Citizens in Warren and its surrounding area will find as this culture change continues to take place that their loved ones will feel as much at home at Signature HealthCARE as is possible in a long term care facility, largely due to the culture change movement taking place. It won't hurt, however, that the company is investing close to 1.5 million dollars in renovations to take place in the coming months. All this will bring to Northeast Ohio an opportunity to ensure that the needs of body, mind, as well as spirit are met.

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