By Jill Vitale-Aussem, Guest Blogger
I recently reviewed the proposed CMS regulations and what struck me right away is that while the proposed changes were created to “reflect the substantial advances that have been made over the past several years in the theory and practice of service delivery and safety,” one thing hasn’t changed a bit. And that one thing is the word that is used to describe the homes and communities where older adults live. FACILITY. ‘The facility shall do this and the facility shall not do this.’ Facility is the coldest, most institutional word possible. And it’s sprinkled generously throughout those hundreds of pages of CMS regulations.
If you’ve seen the movie A Christmas Story, you likely remember the scene in which 9-year-old Ralphie is helping his dad change a tire on the car on a dark snowy night. Ralphie is so excited to help and then he drops all of the lug nuts and loses them in the snow. In frustration, he yells out “Fuuuuudggge!” Ralphie then explains through narration, “…only I didn’t say fudge. I said THE word. The queen mother of all dirty words – the F-dash-dash-dash word!” Ralphie ends up being punished with a bar of soap in his mouth.
That’s how we should view the word ‘facility’. As the queen mother of all dirty words. The F-bomb. Pay attention and you’ll notice it’s still spoken by people in our field constantly. And used by our regulatory agencies. It’s time to eradicate “facility” from our vocabulary.
Is a ‘facility’ a place where older adults should live? How can we expect to change the way we behave if we don’t change the words that describe what we do? Dr. Thomas says that “words make worlds” and he’s right. Call a building a facility and people will act like they live and work in a facility. Call it a community and the seeds of change are planted.
So, bust out the soap, implement a “swear jar” if you want. I don’t give a facility what you do. Let’s start changing our world through the words we use.