A Luxury Resort? No, a Nursing Home: Boomers' Tastes Add Urgency to Reshaping Long-Term Care

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By Pam Kelley, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

Ask Craig Souza about transforming North Carolina’s nursing homes, and he might tell you the sausage biscuit story.

Souza leads the N.C. Health Care Facilities Association, the trade group that represents most of North Carolina’s nursing homes. In the past year, the association has launched an effort to transform nursing homes called “Journey to the National Best.”

Souza’s biscuit story: A friend goes on Mother’s Day to visit his grandmother in a nursing home. He brings her a sausage biscuit. And the staff won’t let her have it, because of diet restrictions.

“We need to be able to give them the sausage biscuit,” Souza says. Or, put another way, nursing homes need to do their best to make people happy.

Souza’s group is working with its members to do that.

“We’re talking about changing the way people live in a skilled nursing facility,” Souza says. “We’re going to plow down some of these barriers and we’re going to make it better.”

Changes include renovations to create more natural lighting, more private rooms and smaller, more intimate dining facilities.

Souza’s now working on a plan that would bring wireless Internet to every nursing home in the state. He’d also like to see playgrounds, so grandchildren will look forward to visits.

And if residents like a little sherry before dinner? “By God,” he says, “they ought to be able to have it.”

For more about the association’s efforts: www.nationalbestnc.org

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