Telling the Story of the Household Model

Listen to Love & Company’s latest podcast! Chris Carruthers, VP of Health Services Marketing discusses the differences of marketing the Household Model with LaVrene Norton, Founder and Executive Leader of Action Pact.

The Household Model of care is an innovative approach to long-term senior care. Residents live together in households that have their own kitchen, dining room, living room, and other shared spaces like a den, patio and front porch. Each resident also has their own private apartment attached to the household. The hallmark of this model of care is the “decision-making autonomy” that the residents have within the household, as they are able to dictate their own daily routines, as they have done their whole lives.

Action Pact developed the household model of care in 1997. The organization had only been around for a year, but LaVrene’s background in leadership development in long-term care attracted the attention of an administrator of a hospital-owned nursing home in Minnesota. Born out of a personal experience with her own father rejecting the thought of living in a nursing home, this administrator had an idea for a model of long-term senior care that wasn’t institutional and instead featured a home-like setting. Today, the Household Model has been implemented around the world.

A Broad Approach to Person-Centered Care

Action Pact looks at person-centered care more broadly, thinking of it as “person-directed life.” This perspective looks beyond high quality care, focusing on supporting a resident’s daily life, pleasures, meaning and purpose. Sometimes it can be as simple as providing them with their favorite kind of coffee, so that they retain their sense of self-determination.

To truly provide a person-centered household, it must be a sanctuary for those who live there. Just like many of us are thankful to return to our homes after a stressful day, residents should feel like the household is a safe and relaxing space.

Instead of focusing on waking residents at a certain time for breakfast and constantly ushering everyone from their rooms to a common space, residents should be able to come and go as they please between their room and shared spaces. This environment encourages laughter, art and music, spirit, creativity and good humor—all things we may think of when thinking of “home.”

Innovative Leadership Structure

In the Household Model, leadership is considered a characteristic and not a position. Staff teams are self-led, which means faster response times and more efficient decision-making, as well as greater workplace satisfaction.

When recruiting staff, LaVrene looks for people who will bring the most to each unique household. In addition to professionals from the health care field, some staff members are teachers, artists or former restaurant chefs. The common thread between them all is that they are looking for a more meaningful career or want to give back. This honors not just the talent and autonomy of residents who live in the households, but it honors the staff as well by empowering staff and residents to work together to create the perfect home environment.

Marketing the Household Model

Storytelling is an important part of marketing the Household Model. Action Pact shares the stories of the Household Model in video clips on social media, newsletters, and television because people are always moved by watching an inspirational story.

Since the ultimate goal of marketing the Household Model is to get people in the door of these innovative facilities, LaVrene notes that they will often share a short clip of a story with an invitation to tour a household to the local TV station to peak their interest. More often than not, reporters will be curious enough to accept the invitation, and once they witness the unique model of care provided, they are motivated to share the story of the community. This tactic creates wonderful word-of-mouth marketing, so that sooner or later, an entire community is sharing the stories of the Household Model.

LaVrene is confident that this slightly unconventional way of marketing communities matches the unique care offered. When a prospective resident or an adult child comes to the community for a tour, it is more than just visiting an office off the lobby. Instead, they ring the doorbell of a household and are invited into a real home where they have lunch with the residents. This not only gives prospects a better sense of the community, but also respects the space of the residents.

Changing the Culture

LaVrene believes that once people hear the stories and have witness the Household Model in person, they are excited about it because they see the benefits of it and want to share the stories with others.

With each new person who believes in the power of the Household Model, Action Pact gets one step closer to changing the culture of long-term senior care. As Action Pact’s website explains, “It’s not just a change you can see, it’s a change you feel; a change elders feel as they direct their own lives and staff feel as they are empowered to help them do so.”

To learn more about Action Pact and the Household Model of care, please visit their website or like them on Facebook. To learn more about how Love & Company is “always thinking”, please contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 or Rick Hunsicker at 214-906-3801.

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