Translating Dignity and Respect Into Action

While I have known David Weaver, Family Ambassador at Silverado Senior Living in Scottdale, AZ (www.silveradosenior.com), for some time, today I had the pleasure of hearing him make a formal presentation. David spoke about the principles that guide everything they do at their facility, starting with the the training that is givien to their staff.

The website and brochure of just about every business and organization that works with seniors assures us that they treat their residents or clients with dignity and respect. While it would be hard to find someone who disagrees with that, David challenged us to think about what that might mean to a young aide who has only received 3 hours of specialized training in assisting seniors.

One example David gave us was that, at his facility, the resident’s names are not sewn, written or otherwise marked on the outside of their clothing or equipment. Doing so might be easier for the staff, but it certainly doesn’t convey respect for the individual. On the other hand, staff must always wear their nametags, so that residents don’t have to be uncomfortable or embarrassed when they can’t recall the name of someone they see every day.

The principle that resonated with me the most is that, at Silverado, the facility is the residents’ home, and the staff is working there, for them. If, instead, it were the workplace of the staff, and the residents were simply permitted to be there, then it might be acceptable to push someone aside if their slow gait was causing you to be late to a meeting, or to ignore a resident in favor of a co-worker or your smartphone. But if the staff are there to serve the residents in their own home, then we recognize that those who live there can walk at their own pace, and sit where they choose. We would never sit in our host’s living room and completely ignore them (especially if our host was also our boss), so it is not acceptable to do that with the residents, either.

These examples remind us that “dignity and respect” are not just words, but principles that can provide clear direction about how to behave.

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