The Blending of Systems: Back to the Future

In a recent edition of the Gerontologist Journal (2014) there was a special supplement dedicated to “Cultural Change in Nursing Homes”. At first glance, it appeared that the paradigms being promoted to influence cultural change, i.e., self-directed opportunity and person-centered planning were very creative and cutting-edge. That is, if one did not have a knowledge-base of paradigms that have been promoted in the disability arena (specifically the field of Developmental Disabilities – now referred to as Intellectual Disabilities) for the last twenty years. As the articles continued on throughout the journal – you could witness the sincerity and excitement of the collaborative researchers – as they challenged nursing homes to change their paradigms and become more individualized in their treatment. The good news is there are existing models and practice orientations that can be blended from the disability system. For years, in my Public Sector career, I worked with teams of individuals throughout the State of New York to offer opportunities for cross-training between the aging and disability systems. In addition, we established working coalitions throughout the state – as platforms to encourage the exchange of ideas, strategies, and models. And now, here we are in 2014, in a well respected Journal speaking as though these strategies are “new”. It is clearly time, as a result of the demographic explosion coupled with the profile of the needs and concerns of the Nursing Home industry, that we stop, listen and learn from the networks and systems surrounding us that have used these well-practiced paradigms for years. It is time to go ‘Back to the Future’ as we prepare ourselves for the present. Dr. Force