Walk a Mile in Their Moccasins

Posted by Dr. El - March 7, 2009 - Anecdotes, Communication - 13 Comments
Occasionally I pull up a chair to sit with the residents in the hallway, chatting and watching the passersby.  One thing I’ve noticed is the vast difference in perspective between eye level and viewing from above.  This difference becomes most shockingly clear when the aides wheel the shower chair, with their naked charges covered only by a sheet, to and from the shower room.  What may appear to be a completely concealed individual from the perspective of the aide, is often all-too-revealing for those seated in the halls.  Similarly, an unwanted light left on by a staff member is no trouble for someone able to walk around the bed to pull the light cord, but can be a difficult and frequently impossible task for a person in a wheelchair.  If we take the time to put ourselves in a resident’s position, either literally or figuratively, we often find situations look entirely different, and we can act accordingly.
 
I recently heard from another blogger, Steve Gurney, who’s made a career of referring older adults to assisted living residences.  He decided to take some time to live in a few of these places himself, to see what things might be like from the perspective of a resident.  You can follow his journey at www.everyoneisaging.com.  While you’re there, check out the link in the right column, under New and Interesting Sites, called Ben Cornwaite Nursing Home Immersion.  It details the experience of a nursing home administrator who briefly lived in his nursing home, and the changes he implemented as a result of his experiment.