AETATIS ( I-E-ta-tis. Latin “Changing Age”)
Currently, about 15-20% of Americans who need assistance with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are residents of an Institutional Aging Community (IAC).
The vast majority of people need assistance, however, (80-85%) live at home, either by themselves or with their families. And unlike IAC’s where, assistance is provided by a paid staff of personal aides, employed by the facility; in the community, it’s the family, friends, and neighbors who provide the care and assistance.
Personally, I favor a community environment: if set-up, operated and administered with wisdom and compassion, they can be places of healing, equilibrium and purpose.
My sister and her husband cared for my mother after she suffered a stroke for more than ten years. She had a beautiful apartment in my sister’s home and for the first nine years it worked out very nicely. But my sister works from her home and her husband’s job takes him out of the house, so most of the time my mother was alone. Like I said, for the first nine years it worked out nicely. In the tenth year however, the lack of human contact pushed my mother into an acute psychotic break. At that time we had to make a decision, and we chose to place my mother into a skilled nursing facility, owned and operated by the State of Pennsylvania. I assure you this was not a decision we took lightly, as my mother at first was determined not to go into the skilled nursing facility. As time went on however, the pain she suffered emotionally and psychologically from being alone made her rethink her options. Finally, after a couple of months in the skilled nursing facility she began to interact with the other residents and her depression and anxiety were considerably diminished.
The goal of any IAC should be to provide residents with an opportunity to grow emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. In other words, to find purpose. But “should be” and reality are often miles apart. Today, many families drop off an aging relative into what they see as a warehouse–to let God sort it out. One of the predictable indicators of this way of thinking is how the facility treats not only the residents, but the staff as well.
This has been my experience for the last ten years of my life in IAC: the staff and residents are usually treated with either indifference and disdain or respect and generosity. It’s not hard to understand this relationship if one observes the interaction between staff and residents. In the facility where the staff is treated with respect and paid a living wage, this has a ripple affect on the way personal care attendants treat residents they provide care for. In the end it’s a simple equation. If the staff is paid a living wage and treated with respect by the owner(s) that same staff, is likely to treat the residents in exactly the same fashion.
Aetatis believes at the present level of care provided by both PCA’s and CNA’s is insufficient for the needs of most residents. Today, a critical shortage of nurses and geriatric physicians have created a need for a more highly trained and proficient personal care attendant. Aetatis is a community that offers either both ADL compromised individuals and families the opportunity to live in a supportive environment, and a comprehensive educational component–a program designed to “retool” personal care assistants in a clinical setting. At the end of the academic semester, the students receive certification for their training. Unlike the residential community, the students are also entitled to free room and board and childcare – a function of the care they provide on their clinical rotations n the AETATIS community.
Who pays for all this? We do, by using on-site care, and economy of scale, Medicare and Medicaid expenditures per person for long term care services are significantly lower than national averages per household.
Additionally the students are virtually guaranteed good paying jobs in their communities.
Copyright © Martin Bayne 2013