Of the eight adult-care homes in Kansas that achieved the prestigious PEAK Award this year, two are from Marion County.
Parkside Homes in Hillsboro and Bethesda Home in Goessel both received the award Feb. 22 for their work in Promoting Excellent Alternatives in Kansas Nursing Homes.
The primary “alternative” is making a commitment to make senior-care facilities more resident-focused.
Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, was on hand to present the award at both locations.
“It’s hard to achieve,” Keck said at Goessel. “I know it’s taken a lot of hard work by the staff and administration here, so they should be very proud of what they’ve done for their residents.”
Eric Schrag, Bethesda administrator, said the PEAK program is focused on person-centered, home-like nursing homes rather than the institutional models of the past.
Achieving that goal almost always requires physical changes to the facility itself.
“In 2007 we remodeled the facility to make it more like home,” Schrag said. “Before the remodel, the facility looked and felt much more institutional with cinderblock walls and linoleum floors.”
The $2.75 million project included a shift toward “neighborhoods” rather than isolated rooms. Residents now have a central area around which they can gather, and a coffee shop and reception area at the front of the facility.
“Person-centered care has been a culture-change shift,” Schrag said. “The big push from the state, which they’re incentivizing, is to make facilities feel more like homes. We did our remodel to create neighborhoods that offer residents their own living room, dining room, kitchen, patio and courtyard.”
Schrag said the new floor plan makes an impact on visitors as well as guests.
“You don’t have somebody come to your home and invite them into your bedroom,” he said. “That was the old model for nursing homes. If you wanted to visit someone you had to go to their bedroom. Now you can eat with your resident in their dining room and visit in their living room.”
The PEAK award recognizes a concern for emotional care as well as physical care for residents.
“We’ve been fortunate to get this award,” Schrag said. “Goessel is a small town and we don’t have all of the same resources that other places would have.”
The Kansas Department on Aging, the forerunner to KDADS, began recognizing adult care homes through the PEAK Awards program in 2002. Parkside Homes was among the first recipients to receive the award and has been recognized at least twice more.
Valerie McGhee, administrator, credits her predecessors for shepherding Parkside along in the PEAK program over the years.
“We’re at Level 4 out of five when it comes to PEAK,” she said. “This (year’s award) means we get to keep our 4. The reason this award is a big one is, if we sustain our Level 4, then the next step is Level 5.”
Each year, the participating homes receive visits from PEAK evaluators to review current conditions.
“You have to prove that you are doing everything that you say you are doing— and are continuing to do that,” McGhee said about the annual process.
Adult-care homes that reach Level 5 of the PEAK program become “mentor homes” that come alongside other facilities that are looking to improve person-centered care.
“We already are a mentor home in practice,” McGhee said. “Other communities around who are working on their PEAK program would come here and say, ‘How do you do it?’ So we mentor them on this and that to help them get to the next level. It takes a number of years, really.”
A key PEAK requirement is a commitment to allow residents to make as many choices about their lives as possible.
“Are they really offering choice in basically everything for the resident and in a matter that follows the protocol?” McGhee said. “Are we actively helping other communities to make it from Level 1 to Level 2.”
Commitment is critical for homes that want to be successful in the resident-centered movement.
“We have more than 350 adult care homes in Kansas, and more than 200 of them participate in the PEAK 2.0 program,” Keck said.
“The PEAK award is special recognition given to adult-care facilities like Parkside Homes that go above and beyond to provide the best medical care as well as the best emotional care in the industry to their residents.”