Culture change takes dedication, leadership, and a willingness to look at life differently. It means we have to try new things and be willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow.
I love when I have the opportunity to show off a person-centered community that is putting the Montessori philosophy into action. Lutheran Senior Life, Passavant Community, has worked with me for the past year with one goal in mind: Use the Montessori philosophy to help their residents to live an abundant life.
After receiving some grant funding, I helped Passavant Community step by step through this culture change process. Their personal care household was transformed through fresh paint, renovated activity areas, a refreshed sunroom for gardening, new wayfinding cues, and other redesigned spaces.
After staff was trained in the Montessori for Aging and Dementia two-day program, they focused on identifying individual and small group activities and personalized roles that are available every day and that match the person’s cognitive abilities. Materials were neatly organized and labeled and physically accessible all throughout the household. Care partners practiced with elders to help them relearn previous roles or enjoy new ones.
The more the elders did this, the more their skills improved until eventually they were able to do most or all of the activities on their own. Now elders clean and set the dining room tables, pour their own beverages, and help themselves to drinks and snacks. They care for plants, arrange flowers, fold laundry, make beds, dust, sweep, lead sing alongs, and pass out supplies for group activities. Some have begun to swim, reminisce with sports memorabilia, and don jewelry and hats from a group fashion corner. Some craft, engage in topic specific puzzles and sorting activities, and play music with various instruments. Few elders can be found in their rooms as they are out during the day enjoying these activities.
Activities and roles happen as a normal course of the day, just like they would if the elder was living at home. The result is a flow of the day during which people are doing different chores and hobbies on their own or in small groups. Montessori isn’t a specific time, it’s a way of life.
Watch this video and see for yourself how one community has been willing to embrace change and create an abundant life!