I give Alanna Carter of Horty Elving a lot of credit. She is an architect who really wanted to experience what it was like living in a nursing home. So, she checked herself into one for 24 hours. Carter's experiences were chronicled in a presentation today at the Environments for Aging.10 conference in Coronado, California.
While she did come away with better ideas for design, the overriding lesson she learned and passed onto the staff was a more person-centered lesson; that of not talking over residents as if they weren't there. "I remember sitting on the toilet waiting to be helped off and listening to the conversation in the hallway about what people were doing after work and I thought, 'I can't do that. I'm stuck here.' It really made an impression on me." Carter's left side was immobilized to simulate having a stroke.
In the dining hall, Carter recounted how one resident was upset that she didn't have salt and pepper shakers like the other table, only salt packets. It turned out she was unable to open the packets and that's why she was upset.