America's service men and women willingly give of themselves to their country in both times of peace and conflict. When a veteran finds himself or herself in need of nursing home care, they have the option of receiving it through veterans homes.
Eight Texas cities host veterans homes — Amarillo, Big Spring, Bonham, El Paso, Floresville, McAllen, Temple and Tyler. The most recent to open its doors, the Watkins-Logan Veterans Home in Tyler, was built on the small house concept. Small houses are part of a nationwide movement to change the culture of nursing homes from one that focuses on the needs and convenience of the staff to one that focuses on the needs and wishes of residents.
Jerry Patterson, chairman of the Veterans Land Board, the agency that manages the state veterans homes, said, "Small houses provide care in a home-like atmosphere where they [the veterans] are in control of their life. They are involved in plans for care, menu, how food is prepared. Activities are centered around them individually."
Each small house in the Tyler facility is home to 10 veterans. While each person has his or her own bedroom and bath, they share the living, dining and kitchen areas. Meals are served family style and take in to account individual preferences. In fact, all activities center on residents' preferences.
Lucy, daughter of small house resident Joe, said that she notices the staff finding what is going to make each person feel whole and that they are part of something outside themselves. "Dad planted a garden, and that is real important to him," Lucy said.
"When you think about nursing homes, you think about things are starting to end, " said Donna Huffman, the VLB onsite representative at the Tyler home. "But when you come to the small house concept where we have culture change we give you the freedom; it is a new beginning."
To learn more about the Watkins-Logan Veterans Home, watch the video below.
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) is a leader in changing the culture of Texas nursing homes.
DADS provide training and resources for nursing facilities through the agency's culture change program. DADS employees, including architects, engineers, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians, are ready to offer their expertise.
(Nov. 26, 2012)