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Transforming Long-Term Care Institutions into LifeLong Living Environments

By: David Seaton

The LifeLong Living is personal growth and well-being of all who live and work in the long-term care setting. This holistic view of support starkly contrasts the traditional medical model, which has been driven by program rules, policies and procedures, risk management and staffing efficiencies. But through the process of culture change, long term care institutions are being transformed into person-centered “LifeLong Living” environments. The person-centered approach is firmly rooted in the belief that every human being has something of value to contribute and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of age or cognitive ability. While the ways and means of creating a person centered home, or LifeLong Living environment, may differ, there are some universal guiding principles; Knowing the Person; Recognize potential for Growth; Create a sense of Community; Build Personal Dignity and Respect; Recognize the Uniqueness of each person; Acknowledge and weigh both Risk and Rewards of personal Choice.

At the core of the LifeLong Living philosophy is the belief that “People don’t plateau, environments do.” Individuals cannot thrive in environments that fail to offer adequate hope, support, opportunity, and companionship. This reflects a failure, not of the person, but of the environment. The challenge before us is to develop and sustain environments that support the unique needs and interests of those living in it. When we do this individuals can begin to realize true potential.

The mission of the Seaton Foundation’s Center for LifeLong Living and Planning is to provide information and encouragement to families, caregivers, and professionals who provide support and services to individuals with cognitive disabilities. I believe that all lives should be infused with joy, variety and spontaneity, companionship, a sense of security, and connection with other living beings—cognitive ability should not dictate quality of life. That’s why you’ll find articles ranging from the inspirational to the practical, addressing a variety of topics, such as the importance of community, the principles pf person-centered support, the role of hope and self-esteem, the facts about guardianship, and trust and estate planning. It is our hope that the Seaton Foundation will help you in your efforts to create environments full of opportunity, optimism, choices and growth. For in the end, it is within our power to create better living environments for ourselves and those who depend on us. We can be the change; we can do better.

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