If you haven’t been to Joliet’s Sunny Hill Nursing Home lately, you may not recognize the facility. Physical and cultural changes are being made to the nursing home owned by Will County with the hope of providing a more comfortable, home-like environment for the residents.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the 40-year-old facility is joining the national trend of re-shaping the way nursing homes operate by taking into account resident preferences. Sunny Hill is revamping the way it provides care to its residents. Flexible schedules allow residents to wake-up, eat, bathe and exercise according to the individuals time schedule as opposed to uniformly ordering all residents to do the same thing at the same time.
“This really is a no brainer, but I think the fear of the unknown had long kept nursing home from evolving this way,” said Karen Isberg Sorbero, the Chief Administrator at Sunny Hill. “This represents a whole new philosophy about how to care for some of the most vulnerable in our society,” Sorbero added.
Changing the way nursing care is provided is not always easy. According to Nancy Flowers, an Evanston nurse and past president of the Illinois Association of Long Term Care Ombudsman, “We’re talking about more staff involvement and that creates a lot of pressure on nurses and orderlies if there isn’t a complete buy-in to the philosophy from the top down.”
To help bridge the gap to the new way of operation, Sunny Hill has assigned one nurse to care for a group of residents compared with the old way of rotating multiple nurses to care for the same resident.
The other part of the change at Sunny Hill consists of a renovation of the facility–changing the way the facility looks and how care is provided. The capacity of the facility has been reduced by almost 70 beds to allow for a more spacious atmosphere. New social meeting areas where residents can meet, private areas for families of residents and enlarged hallways and bathrooms are part just part of the changes at Sunny Hill that make it a more enjoyable place to live.
“Big rambling nursing homes are just about a thing of the past. They’re not very personalized, and you can’t have the type of individual care that these changes will allow. This is the way of the future,” according to Becky Haldorson, Sunny Hill’s assistant administrator.