Emotion-based care the latest aspect of long-term care homes person-centred philosophy

Orangeville, ON (Wednesday, February 14, 2024) - A journey that began for Avalon Care Centre in July 2022 has arrived at its next exciting milestone! Our long-term care community shared news today that it has been accredited as a Butterfly Home at a special celebration with people living in the home (residents), family members, team members and guests, including the Hon. Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon.

The Butterfly Approach to Care, which was pioneered by Meaningful Care Matters, focuses on the dignity and emotional health of residents as an important element of their overall health-care that is often less emphasized in conventional health-care environments.

"'Feelings Matter Most' is the motto that has naturally found its way into the heart of our transformational journey to implementing the Butterfly Approach," said Denise Simpson, the long-term care home's Butterfly Lead. She added, "The feelings of the people that live, work and visit our home is at the centre of it all. The Butterfly Approach to Care has allowed us to be free to connect with each other "in the moment". The physical transformation of the home area with vibrant colours, 'stuff of life' walls, and our home decor is part of it. But it is the vibe you feel when you are in the presence of 'butterflies' � people living in the home, and team members who have been trained in the Butterfly Approach. The caring, the hugs, the joy, the tears, the shared moments - this is home. This is love."

The months since the start of this transformation were filled with extensive consultation and training about what the Butterfly Approach to Care represents, led by Denise Simpson, the manager in charge of leading the exciting culture change at Avalon Care Centre. Importantly, the training also involved learning directly from people living in the home and team members about their life journeys and formational moments that help shape who they are today and their perspectives. That level of knowledge is the foundation of a true home and community, helps to create stronger empathy between everyone, and is less often found in traditional health-care environments.

"Having a place in our community like Avalon Care Centre that is accredited in the Butterfly Approach to Care is welcome news for Dufferin County. This will allow those in our community living with dementia to receive care that is best tailored to their needs, while remaining close to friends and loved ones," said Sylvia Jones, MPP Dufferin-Caledon.

Some observable changes in the home's environment include bright colours that are emotionally appealing and are chosen to support people living with dementia. They also include furniture, some antiques, decorations and memorabilia from residents' private homes and which reflect emotional memories from their lives. Another special touch are 'stuff of life' walls and shadow boxes which incorporate residents' names and important moments of their life and their interests and tastes into a creative work of art. Day-to-day work routines are being built around the interests and needs of the people that live in the home. The choice of clothing worn by team members - setting aside traditional health-care clothing - also greatly helps to make the people that live, work and visit the home feel more at home.

While the Butterfly Approach to Care can help residents experience greater joy and emotional satisfaction in their lives, it is part of the holistic approach to care. Homes which have implemented the approach report improved resident health outcomes, including higher body weights, lower use of medication, lower fall rates and stronger, more fulfilling relationships and mental health, to name just a few! Most importantly there are happier people living, working and visiting the home.

This culture change also benefits team members, many of whom say they experience higher job satisfaction and improved motivation in their workplace. Not only are the residents free to be themselves, our care team members are encouraged to bring their authentic self to work everyday. This has encouraged our staff to use all of their otherwise hidden talents to bring even more joy into the home. For example, Avalon Care Centre has singing housekeepers, piano playing nurses, PSWs who make beautiful knit bow ties and jewellery for the residents in their care.

"Tomorrow I will wear this silver glitter headband that lights up. The next day I will have purple hair! The residents love it!"said Ruth-Ann, RAI coordinator and member of Avalon Care Centre's Butterfly Home Action Team (BHAT).

While the home has successfully achieved a notable milestone - and with flying colours by achieving Level 1 accreditation! - it remains on a broader journey in at least two other ways. Since the Butterfly Approach transforms the home around the personalities and needs of the people who live, work and visit, it will continue to evolve and be improved with every new person. Avalon Care Centre is also redeveloping on an adjacent property, on Broadway in Orangeville, in order to better suit the increasingly complex care needs of senior aged residents. This new home will have larger, brightly-lit and even more areas to be at home. Once completed, in 2025, the lessons from our current Butterfly Home will be well integrated into the day-to-day living experience in every aspect of our Butterfly Home.


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