In an aged care facility quality of life is about freedom, engagement with others, and having a connection to values, says international expert.
A staff member of the Arts Health Institute was conducting a survey with the residents living in a memory unit.
Sitting with a resident as they conducted the one-on-one surveys, the staff member asked, “What else can be done to make your life here more satisfying?”
The resident paused to think.
“I don’t really know,” he replied, “but could you just sit with me a while longer?”
Stephen Lundin, international expert on workplace moral, culture and productivity, recounts this story to illustrate quality of life, something he says is difficult to measure, but at the essence of good aged care.
When quality of care is discussed it usually involves fairly clinical criteria reflecting a medical model, says Dr Lundin. He acknowledges that clinical criteria are important, but says quality of life is critical, largely due to the vulnerability of the residents.
“In an aged care facility quality of life is about freedom, engagement with others, and having a connection to values and favourite activities. But for staff to really know a person who can’t summarise their life, they need to be truly present and to discover things about them through conversation, family and visitors, and by paying attention,” says Dr Lundin.
Dr Lundin, author of the best-selling FISH! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Performance was speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of his participation in the Aged and Community Services NSW & ACT state conference in May.
He is best-known for the “FISH Philosophy,” which focuses on “who we are” while we work, and how our values, attitudes and interactions shape the workplace culture.
His philosophy encourages people to approach work playfully, to be present, focus on serving others, and be more conscious of our attitudes.
What makes a workplace satisfying is partly influenced by how much people enjoy the work and partly by how much they enjoy the feel of the place, Dr Lundin says. “Some places have a toxic feel while others are welcoming and warm. The feel of a place, or the culture, is created moment by moment as workers choose how they will show up at work.”
Dr Lundin acknowledges that aged care organisations and staff have been through a lot of change, as reforms have been implemented, over which they had little control. “It is true the sheer amount of change is tiring,” he says.
But, aged care workers have a choice in how they show up for work, he says.
“Why not create a palace of hospitality amidst the chaos? Why not co-create a place that is playful so that coming to work is joyful even if the actual job is not? We create our own workplace culture; why not make it a fully human and playful place?”
Dr Lundin encourages workers to put aside a focus on the negative and build a work environment where “you look forward to entering each work day because it is like a healthy home.”
The ACS NSW & ACT state conference runs from 4 to 5 May at Dolton House, Sydney.
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