Once a month at Christian Health Care Center in Lynden, a group of residents gather in the activity room to discuss how life is going for the center’s long-term residents.
They discuss everything of importance to them, from the quality of the food in the dining room to privacy concerns.
Resident council members are an important part of life at the skilled nursing center, says Brett Bajema, interim director of therapeutic recreation at CHCC.
Topics brought up by the resident council can be complex, he says, and CHCC holds the residents’ input in the highest regard. The essence of the council, he adds, is residents representing themselves and making space for discussions.
“Often, concerns or praises arise organically during conversations, and resident council meetings make space for these topics to be brought to a larger audience,” Bajema says.
At each meeting, individuals who are receiving long-term care at CHCC have time in private, without staff present, to discuss any issues and concerns they might have. Then, during a portion of each meeting when department heads are present, the council can discuss matters directly with them.
CHCC department heads work hard to find answers to issues raised at the meetings; typically they’ll provide an update or response at the next meeting, Bajema says.
Resident council meetings are run by members of a resident leadership team, who are voted on by other individuals who live full-time at CHCC. Officers are the president, vice president and board advisors. All residents are invited to each meeting, as are the heads of the dietary, environmental services, administrative, social services and therapeutic recreation departments. Meetings typically consist of updates from each of the department heads on various projects and changes, such as new staff, new policies, new menu items, new activities and so on.
Recently, the council has been discussing dietary options on the menu. Those discussions have resulted in a new omelet cart being available to residents one day per week. Some residents have been stumping for more mentally stimulating games, such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, trivia and brain teasers. In response, CHCC has added those games to this month’s activity schedule.
Other recent conversations at council meetings have included availability of TV channels, phone services and privacy questions.
“Resident council groups are vital,” Bajema says. “Having a place where residents can share their thoughts and ideas directly with department heads allows for open communication between the facility and those who live there for long-term care.”
It’s just one more way that the Lynden health-care center works to provide compassionate care in a loving environment for those they serve.